Lowcountry Headlines

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City of Charleston seeks approval on grants to expand composting programs

Man showing compost

Photo: Getty Images

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The city of Charleston is hoping to get tens of thousands of dollars from the state health department to kick start new composting programs in the city and expand already existing programs. 

With council’s approval, the city is applying for two grants: one for $15,000 and another for $110,000 dollars, according to Sustainability Director Katie McKain. 

The first grant would pilot a new composting campaign at the two weekly farmers markets held in town—one in West Ashley and one downtown. 

The money would go toward education materials and advertising, as well as composting and recycling bins and compost hauling, McKain says. 

The city believes the new composting program would help reduce waste and methane emissions and also teach visitors and vendors about the benefits of composting, according to the grant application. 

If approved, the pilot program would kick off at the farmers markets early next year, the application says. 

“At our City Farmers Markets, we have a food donation program in place already,” McKain says. “That is supporting the vendors, people who have leftover food, and we take all that to food pantries. But there are also prepared food vendors and there are disposables that are compostable that are right now going to the landfill. So, this program would help divert those compostables from the landfill to our compost facility.” 

The larger grant would go toward supporting infrastructure and equipment needs for a new compost program and upgrade existing composting in the area, she says. 

If awarded the grant, the new funds would expand or double the number of places you can drop off compost and would buy special compost bins that are easier to use and prevent contamination, according to the grant application. It would also help purchase a lift trailer and expand the composting program to potentially include public buildings and backyard composters. 

“The city started a new food scrap drop site program for residents to drop off their food scraps in January, and it’s going really well,” McKain says. “This other grant would support infrastructure to help grow that program, expand that program and potentially innovate that program with different carts in our parks. The more folks can recycle those organics and use that compost on their sites, the better our city will be.” 

The grant applications will go before City Council tonight for approval during their meeting at 5 p.m. 

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