NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — When it comes to composting, nothing is too small or large for Ashton Tongco to put her food scraps in.

“I think that there are a lot of ways to be sustainable in Nashville, but I think it could always be improved,” she said.

But the idea of composting the food she eats all began with her mom. “She’s big into gardening and so I was like okay this is a great continuation into something that I was lucky enough to learn about growing up,” said Tongco.

So when she heard about a new pilot program a month ago, she was pretty interested.

“I think I saw an ad or something and I was like well I definitely want to apply,” said Tongco. “I already compost, and so it was a great way to kind of up the ante about how can I reduce my waste and contribute in the way.”

Tuesday afternoon in front of Tongco’s home, Metro Nashville leaders officially launched a new curbside food scraps pick-up program geared towards reducing food waste in landfills.

“We really wanted to do something that was small scale, but at the same time large enough that we could gather the data necessary so that we could really move this forward in that data-driven way,” said Jenn Harrman

Harrman is the Zero Waste Program Manager for Metro Water Services and said, for the next year, 750 homes across Metro Nashville will have their compost picked up free of charge while her team collects data. “The idea is for us to be able to understand what would it take to scale a program potentially city-wide to everyone that receives our curbside services.”

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Harrman said one-third of the food thrown away by Nashville residents typically ended up in landfills that are already hitting their capacity.

She’s hoping this pilot program can also help the city achieve its Zero Waste goal to reduce all waste to landfill by 90%.

“This is an opportunity for us to show not only our participants but everyone in Nashville that there’s another solution for this material, whether they use a drop-off, whether they compost at home to help alleviate and reduce that reliance on our landfills,” said Harrman.

Tongco was one of the many selected for this program and is hopeful it’ll encourage more people to work at making Nashville a more eco-friendly city.

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“Even someone who isn’t necessarily interested in climate change, sustainability, the environment…they can say hey there’s little rewards to this. It’s really easy for me to do…I literally have to take my trash out less so why not,” she said. “There’s no incentive not to.”

Residents not included in the pilot program interested in composting can:

  • Visit one of four Metro Waste Services’ Convenience Centers to drop off compostable material at no charge.
  • Purchase an Earth Machine Compost Bin at Metro Waste Services’ Omohundro Convenience Center for $50.
  • Enter for a chance to win an Earth Machine Compost Bin by watching Metro Waste Services On-Demand Webinar and completing the quiz linked in the description.
  • Pay for private collection from Compost Nashville, Compost Company, or REGENR8.

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For more information on Nashville’s Zero Waste goals and how to reduce food waste, click here.