A trial partnership with the local Walmart shows enough promise that Pendleton Sanitary Service may one day expand its composting business, company owners said recently.
Pendleton Sanitary for the past month has provided Walmart, 2203 S.W. Court Ave., with compost dumpsters for plant, non-meat food and bakery products as part of a 90-day pilot project, said company President Susan McHenry. The company since May has picked up Walmart’s bins every Wednesday morning around 10 a.m. and emptied the contents onto compost piles at the company transfer station on Rieth Road just outside Pendleton.
Company Vice President Mike McHenry said the company charges Walmart the city-approved rate, $219.20 per container per week. Walmart has three 4-cubic-yard containers, but the amount of waste Pendleton Sanitary takes away varies by week. That lowers Walmart’s disposal costs by about two-thirds because the loads are extremely heavy, but it pays by the container, not by weight.
Pendleton Sanitary processes the material into compost, which it sells to local nurseries and landscapers. A local supply of compost material is one benefit of the company initiative, said Jari Boettcher of Westwinds Nursery, Hermiston.
“Compost isn’t something you want to haul for 200 miles,” he said Friday. Another advantage is that the waste is put to good use. “It’s much to be preferred to putting it in a landfill,” said Boettcher.
Greg McLaughlin of McLaughlin Landscaping, Pendleton, said the compost from Pendleton Sanitary is a “great product” and reasonably priced.
Pendleton Walmart store manager Shawna Nulf said she recommends the service to other businesses, and hopes to continue working with Pendleton Sanitary if the compost project makes it past the trial.
“It saves us tons of money with the hauls we have to do with our garbage,” she said. She said Pendleton Sanitary has given Walmart “all the tools” it needs to make the program work.
“They’re very good at communicating with us if there’s any issues,” she said.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality monitors the program to ensure it doesn’t create noxious odors or other problems. Department spokesman Brian Mannion said controlling odor is an important part of the project. A late May inspection indicated the project is going well, he said
“The majority of the material was decomposed, and there were no odors from the existing piles or from the delivery side of things,” he said. “By all observable accounts the operation seems to be going well during that main inspection.”
Based on the feedback, McHenry said she anticipates no issues with continuing the program after the trial. She said Walmart contacted to company for a proposal, and after evaluating its options and submitting them to Walmart, Pendleton Sanitary Service was contacted by Quest Recycling Services LLC, the company that manages Walmart recycling.
Mike McHenry mentioned the project to city council Tuesday as an example of a service the company provides the community during his pitch for a 15 percent increase in the city trash collection fee. The council approved the fee, effective Sept. 1. “
We hope to expand that, hopefully possibly to Safeway, Albertsons and then the [East Oregon Correctional Institution] — those are the next larger producers of food waste,” he told the council.
Susan McHenry was hesitant to say definitively that such partnerships will happen. “I think we need a little more experience under our belts before doubling or increasing volume significantly,” she said.
Walmart has been easy to work with so far, she said. “They have been immaculate; they have not had any contamination in any of the bins,” she said.
Contact Chris Rizer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0836.
This story originally appeared in East Oregonian.