The Echo’s August issue included a report from Judith Robinson on Princeton’s efforts to organize a town-wide composting program, including an application to the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge for a $100,000 grant to further develop Princeton’s organic waste plan. The article highlighted some of the challenges to the weekly collection program, including the contamination of food waste.

A photo, pictured to the left, showed Mayor Liz Lempert and other officials sorting out the contents of trash bags for a “trash audit.” The audit discovered, among other things, “passersby are throwing soda cans and dog poop bags into compost bins.”

On September 9 the mayor sent a good news-bad news letter to composting participants. The good news was that the Princeton is one of 35 national finalists in the Bloomberg challenge. The bad news was that Princeton’s composting bins “contain too much prohibited material — mostly traditional plastic garbage bags and ‘compostable’ utensils — to be accepted at the farm utilized by our hauler.” So, instead of being recycled organic material, the contents of Princeton’s composting bins have been burned in a waste-to-energy incinerator in Pennsylvania.

“Clearly, we need to do a better job working with our composters to improve the content of our food waste in order to keep this important program viable,” Lempert said in her letter. “With your help, we hope to demonstrate our food waste stream is clean enough to be a valuable resource.”