Collection infrastructure refers to the programs and processes needed to collect and transport compostable products, food scraps, and other organics from their point of generation (restaurant, coffee shop, home, or apartment) to the composting facility. Collection programs generally come in one of three forms – 1) Municipal collection programs offered by a city or town, 2) Private collection programs, and 3) Drop-off programs.
Processing infrastructure refers to the composting facilities that organics are transported to. The composters that own and operate these facilities determine what materials (yard trimmings, food scraps, compostable products) they accept, and communicate that to their collection partners (haulers) as well as their residential and commercial customers.
BPI’s efforts to address infrastructure challenges for compostable products can be divided into two categories – 1) supporting existing infrastructure, and 2) helping to create new infrastructure.
BPI wants to make sure that composters already accepting compostable products continue to do so. Some of the same barriers that prevent many composters from accepting compostable products altogether create challenges for the composters choosing to accept compostable products today. Contamination is the best example of that, and BPI is highly engaged on addressing contamination through its efforts on labeling and identification.
BPI is a founding partner of the Find A Composter project, which maps existing processing infrastructure and allows users to search by location and materials accepted. The site was redeveloped by BPI in 2021 to include new facilities, and to update information for existing facilities. The next update will feature the addition of data on municipal and private collection programs, as well as drop-off programs.
While there are almost 5,000 composting facilities in the US today, the majority accept only yard trimmings. Considering that food is consistently the top material ending up in landfills, and that most communities (today) don't offer a way for households to compost their food, we need a significant number of new composting facilities, along with community composting programs and education around home composting.
BPI is a founding member of the US Composting Infrastructure Coalition (USCIC), a group of associations leading the effort to establish widespread composting infrastructure. Which launched the COMPOST Act in 2021 ($2 billion in grants and loans for food scrap composting) and is promoting the Recycling & Composting Accountability Act (RCAA), to get national data on composting feedstocks, programs, etc. BPI had the opportunity to support this in the Senate (link to testimony), which has passed, and is now in the House Take Action Now!
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs designed to generate funding for the recovery of packaging are another important part of the effort to help create new infrastructure. A full review of BPI’s work on EPR and other legislative initiatives can be found here.