By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Biweekly compost pickup service will begin Sept. 1, after the Keizer City Council opted last week not to make the service weekly and raise rates about $1.68 per month.

All councilors but Cathy Clark opposed the weekly service. Councilor Richard Walsh was not at the meeting held last week.

The rate increase implemented last month will cover the cost of bi-weekly compost pickup.

The change was made at the request of the Mid-Valley Garbage and Recyclers Association, who at the behest of Marion County is beginning to offer the service. Compostable items like bread, coffee filters and grounds, dairy products, egg shells, produce, meats, pizza boxes and seafood shells could be disposed of in the green yard debris can, instead of in with the trash. Plastic bags, animal waste, foil, grease, metals and personal hygiene products would continue to go in the garbage.

City Manager Chris Eppley stated as high as 24 percent of trash sent to the Marion County Waste-to-Energy facility is food waste. Removing that from the wastestream, proponents say, will extend the life of that plant as it is running near-capacity.

The haulers gave the option of weekly or bi-weekly pickup, with a solid waste consultant saying bi-weekly service would be adequate if the council so chooses.

“When it’s mixed with yard waste it does change the chemical properties of it and that’s why it could be every other week,” said consultant Estle Harlan.

Councilor David McKane asked whether seasonal weekly pickup was possible, but Harlan said it would be “almost prohibitive cost-wise” considering it would leave trucks simply sitting part of the year.

Mary Kanz, president of the association, said there are some 10,000 free composting bins available for Marion County residents. To receive one, call your garbage hauler. They’re available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The move to composting didn’t draw very many testifiers at Tuesday’s meeting, but councilors and Mayor Lore Christopher said the feedback they received was nearly all against weekly compost pickup.

“I’ve actually had the second-most calls on this as I have any issue in eight years,” said Councilor Jim Taylor. “It was unanimous they didn’t want to do the weekly.”

Clark voted for it, she said, because she felt many customers wouldn’t have room in their green bins during the summer months where lawns require the most maintenance, and that other jurisdictions started with bi-weekly and moved to weekly.

“Those who were at every other week very quickly said, ‘Oh, that was a mistake,’” Clark said.