MORELAND HILLS — Members of the Green Commission are studying how to bring a local composting service to village residents.

Rust Belt Riders, an organization created to divert food waste from landfills, offers pick-up services and drop-off locations for compostable materials. Residents have expressed interest in the service, but village officials have yet to find a location for drop-off bins.

Zoe Apisdorf, director of residential services for Rust Belt Riders, spoke to members of the commission on Feb. 3. The company has drop-off locations all over greater Cleveland, she said, and Rust Belt Riders plans to extend services into the Chagrin Valley next. Mayor Dan Fritz and commission Chairwoman Kris Tesar said that the village is working on logistics.

“I think this is a tremendous service and I applaud your efforts for starting this business. It’s something that certainly falls along the goals and the mission of our residents in Moreland Hills, so I applaud your efforts there,” Mayor Fritz said. “Our trick is also to make it fit for us.”

Although it would be convenient for residents to have a drop-off location for their compostable items at Village Hall on SOM Center Road, the mayor said that there may not be space. The Service Department is located in the back of the parking lot, which could create a hazard if residents are arriving to drop off their materials throughout the day, village officials said.

“It is difficult for people to maneuver around [during the day,]” Village Service Director Ted DeWater said. “We are there working. Our equipment and stuff comes in and out pretty readily.”

If the village joins the drop-off service, that location would also be listed on a map, so anyone in the area who uses the Rust Belt Riders service could drop off items in Moreland Hills, bringing more users than just residents of the village. Mayor Fritz said that other locations in the village could have issues with security and low light. The bins would be accessible 24/7, Ms. Apisdorf said, so it would be important for the location to be safe with proper lighting at all times.

“We have some hurdles out of the gate to make this a centralized collection site,” Mayor Fritz said. “I don’t think they’re insurmountable but they’re significant.”

Ms. Apisdorf said that all of the bins lock and the passcode is the same at every location. For the drop-off service to be feasible for Rust Belt Riders, she said, at least 50 residents in a survey must indicate that they are interested in the program. Ms. Apisdorf said that her organization hopes for at least half the number of people who showed interest on the survey to sign up, but often fewer take the step. The newest drop-off location is in South Euclid, she said, and there are seven participants.

There is already a drop-off location at Lowe’s Greenhouse in Bainbridge where 32 people are signed up to participate, Ms. Apisdorf said.

Ms. Tesar said that she joined the drop-off program several weeks ago and takes her compostable items to Lowe’s.

Rust Belt Riders accepts all food scraps, including animal products, meat bones, dairy products, cooked food, raw food, baked goods, dry goods and prepared food. The only edible items that people should not put in their compost bins are pure liquids. Food waste can be dumped directly into the bins or placed in a compostable bag.

All materials are composted at Rust Belt Riders’ facility in Independence. The employees use the scraps to make various types of soil, including a seed-starting mix and a houseplant mix.

“We take that compost and process it into soil blends. One can [purchase] the bulk, unscreened compost. That is a material available for purchase,” Ms. Apisdorf said. “If you saw it out in the world, you would say ‘Oh, that’s a black mulch,’ but actually it’s made up of millions of living organisms.”

The organization also offers home pick-up services, but Ms. Apisdorf said that they would need a high enrollment, such as three to four households per square mile, to come as far east as Moreland Hills.

Mayor Fritz is having continuing discussions with Rust Belt Riders to make the drop-off bin a reality in the village.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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