Join the Co-op's Community Composting Pilot

Alisa Shargorodsky, for the Shuttle

Ready to Jump in?

Join the Community Composing Pilot

Register at

Registration runs through March 22. Space is limited to 40. Participants must attend an Intro to Composting class March 28 or April 2. Dropoffs take place on eight consecutive Tuesday nights. A final intensive workshop takes place Sunday, June 4, at Saul High School.

For more info: or 215-843-2350, ext. 118.

Starting this month, Co-op members are invited to take part in a community-based solution to the organic-waste problem: The Weavers Way Community Composting Pilot. 

In this eight-week program, our goal is to provide a learning opportunity and a chance to experiment with the idea of a composting collective. We’ll also be evaluating long-term feasibility of the program and assessing the potential for developing a permanent, independent, local composting cooperative. 

Other cities such as Portland, OR, and Seattle provide curbside collection of “organics” — kitchen food scraps excluding meat, fat and dairy. These programs have proven to be both economically and environmentally beneficial, but Philadelphia does not have such a program, meaning organics tend to end up in the landfill. 

Most people are unaware how much of the negative environmental impact of landfilling comes from the mixture of dry and wet waste. Wet waste, anything that comes from your food scraps, creates methane chambers that need to be vented. Only 12 percent of landfills have technologies that convert these gases into energy. 

During the Nutter administration, residents of Point Breeze and East Oak Lane were encouraged to participate in a program using enhanced sink disposals. It was assumed this would reduce the amount of wet waste in landfills, and the city did report the program saved $1.1 million last year in tipping fees. 

But sending organics down the drain to the water treatment plant is not a perfect solution: Fats, oils and grease in kitchen waste can congest sewer pipes. Moreover, an Australian study concluded the practice increases eutrophic impacts — the same problem that occurs when excess fertilizer runs into lakes and rivers and encourages algal growth, to the detriment of a balanced ecosystem. 

Some local residents compost at home and others would like to but don’t have the space or the know-how. Philadelphians who don’t maintain their own compost piles do have a couple of options: The Dirt Factory in University City ( is a community compost program that serves 200 customers, while Nicetown-based Bennett Compost ( provides weekly paid pickup service to 1,500 households and 40 restaurants.

But here and now at the Co-op we have an opportunity to build community around our collective desire and need to create local solutions to our organics issue.

The pilot program includes:

  • A single-session “Composting Intensive” crash course.
  • Eight weekly drop-off sessions (Tuesday evenings from 6 to 8) with rotating analysis by participants.
  • A closing workshop on the economics and legal issues around community composting at Saul Agricultural High School, with refreshments. 

Five-gallon waste collection buckets will be provided, and the materials will be composted at the Henry Got Compost operation at Saul. No yard waste will be accepted, although there would be capacity for this if members decide to take the pilot to the next phase. 

The pilot will end in June and every participant will be invited to complete a survey so we can collect feedback about the program.

Registration is limited to 40 households. Applicants will be approved on a first-come/first-served basis, and Weavers Way membership is required. There is a fee of $40 per household; scholarships will be available for a limited number of Weavers Way Food for All members to participate at no cost.

To register, visit, or contact Membership at or 215-843-2350, ext. 118.

Alisa Shargorodsky is a zero-waste consultant working with Weavers Way and the LandHealth Institute ( Reach her at