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Press Editorial: Compost, come on

Mandatory and compost don't meld.

Why is the Dickinson Recycling Committee using its time and resources worrying about items that are biodegrable instead of figuring out how this city is going to recycle plastic, glass and other items that continue to fill the landfills?

There is no doubt that composting is beneficial and filling up a landfill is not.

However, the Dickinson committee's idea of forcing residents to compost is off track and not the direction we expected they'd be headed when the city decided to form the Recycling Committee in February.

Collection drop-off points, the use of compostable bags and curb-side collections are among ideas committee members are discussing. There is credibility in these, but realistically, how is this going to be enforced? Who gets to dig through bags looking for misplaced tree twigs and apple cores?

People who want to compost will and those who don't will find ways to avoid it, which includes creating places to take their unwanted yard waste.

Not recommended, but someone heading to the countryside and emptying a wheelbarrow full of grass clippings is more "desirable" than someone tossing a barrel of soda bottles in a ditch -- a bottle that takes, some say, 500 to 1,000 years to decompose. Your average grass clippings -- about two weeks when left on the lawn.

The city could easily add a program to Channel 19 to help educate residents on the benefits of composting. This would be a time-saver, leaving more dedication to a true recycling program.

The city sent a survey to residents looking for input on a recycling program about a year ago and at least one city leader told The Press, if there was a strong response to the surveys, there would be a good chance the city would pursue a recycling program. In February, a city leader said the response rate was much higher than anticipated.

The committee was formed to use its creativity to come up with ways to fill this void that makes Dickinson undesirable. There are aluminum can drop-off sites around town that nonprofit organizations use as money-makers. Otherwise, residents have to pack up recyclables and take them to other towns.

We don't have the answers to the recycling dilemma but look forward to the Recycling Committee's ideas for those items that take more than a few weeks to decompose.

Committee members are expected to present their mandatory composting plans to city commissioners next month.

Residents come on and compost. Committee, come on, compost?

-- The Editorial Board meets weekly to discuss issues of importance to the community.