Temple to begin food-waste drop-off program this spring


Temple’s new solid waste complex will open this spring, prompting changes in recycling drop-off locations and the implementation of a new food-waste program, a department official said today.

“The city will start accepting food waste as part of a drop-off-only program in the spring,” said Heather Leedy, recycling manager for the city. “The food waste program will not be a curbside collection, and the items will not go into the green curbside bin.”

After the new complex opens, Temple residents will be able to take food leftovers and bones to the collection site and deposit the scraps into a 500-gallon food-waste generator, Leedy said.

“Once the generator is full, it will take 24 hours to process and the food is converted to 50 pounds of soil amendment,” she said. “It takes about three weeks for the compost to quit being active, but when it’s ready, the amendment is like food for your garden and houseplants. You have to wait, though. If you put active compost in your garden it will eat up your plants.”

Leedy said the generator is sealed, and odors and pests won’t be a concern.

In addition to food scraps, residents can also compost bamboo utensils and paper bags. Leedy emphasized that food wrappers and packaging will not be accepted.

Once the new complex is operational, one of Temple’s two recycling drop-offs will be moving from the city’s old animal shelter on Bullseye Lane to the new facility, she said. A second drop-off, located behind Gober Party House near the intersection of South 31st and West Ave. H, will remain open.

“We will still have two drop-offs for recycling, and I’m hoping to open a third drop-off location in West Temple,” she said. “But that’s in the future.”

Leedy said Recycle No. 2 — the one behind Gober — will be staffed starting Saturday, Jan. 21, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“There will be an attendant on duty to make sure the containers are being used correctly,” she said. “The attendant also will have a truck for cardboard, so the containers on-site don’t get overloaded. The truck will be available on Sunday when no attendant is on site.”


Leedy is not a fan of plastic grocery bags: They clog recycling machinery and many end up in lakes, streams and around town.

“Machines at recycling plants use belts to move and sort plastic bottles, paper and aluminum,” she said. “Flexible plastics like grocery bags get hung up on the belts and cause damage. Multimillion dollar machines can be taken out by a single plastic grocery bag.”

Flexible plastics can be recycled, but should be returned to bins at local grocery stores.

“Flexible plastics include more than grocery bags,” Leedy said. “Shrink wrap and the wrappers around cases of water also are flexible plastics. Water bottles can and should be recycled; it’s the flexible plastic that causes problems.”

Leedy recommends a solution for those who don’t want to fool with returning grocery bags to stores.

“It’s best to have reusable shopping bags,” she said. “Some stores — like Natural Grocers — don’t even have plastic grocery bags. You either take your own bag or use a box the store provides.”

“There’s a lot of wind in Temple, and plastic bags can end up just about anywhere — in parks, lakes, residential areas,” she said.

“I keep a laundry basket I keep in my trunk. When I shop, I just put the groceries back in the cart after I pay, then fill up my laundry basket when I get to the car. When I get home, I take all the groceries inside in a single trip.”

Leedy shared other recycling dos and don’ts during a recent conversation.

“It’s amazing how many lawn bags full of leaves and grass clippings are taken to the curb each week,” she said. “Lawn bags fill up the landfill, and the organic material does not decompose quickly because it’s trapped inside plastic. Instead of bagging grass, leave it in your yard to feed the grass or haul it to a compost pile.”

What can you recycle in residential curbside containers?

“Cardboard, paper, aluminum cans, plastic bottles, detergent bottles — these items can be placed in the recycling bins,” Leedy said. “We also accept pizza boxes, but please remove chunks of cheese before tossing it in a bin.”

One item that cannot be placed in residential recycling bins is glass, but the city’s drop-off recycling locations accept glass containers.

“Glass is a great material to recycle because you can always make glass out of glass,” she said. “Plastic can only be recycled two or three times before it breaks down into microplastics.”

Right now, residential recycling pick-up in Temple is limited to single-family homes, but Leedy hopes to eventually expand the program to include apartment communities as well.

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