Metro surveys show that home composting activity in the region continues to increase.
In December 2004, Metro conducted surveys of home composting behavior that targeted the general population and purchasers of home composting bins. The results show that the growth in the participation rate in home composting activity in the region appears to have leveled off, although there is still unmet demand for this service from younger residents and new arrivals to the region.
Fifty-two percent of those who live in single-family dwellings were composting some fraction of their yard trimmings in 2004. This was up significantly from the 44 percent who reported composting yard trimmings in 1996, but not significantly different from the 55 percent participation rates in the 1998 and 2001 surveys.
Food scrap composting participation increased from 26 percent in 1996 to 30 percent in 1998 and leveled off in 2001 with 32 percent and in 2004 with 31 percent.
The majority of the general population (60 percent) favors getting information on composting by direct mail, such as a postcard or a flyer. Other popular methods were inserts into the garbage bill (29 percent) and newspaper articles or ads (21 percent).
One in three yard debris composters uses more than one method. Respondents used the following compost techniques:
Since 1994, Metro has sold almost 90,000 home composting bins in annual truckload sales. The 2004 survey to 100 bin purchasers distributed evenly among the 1995, 1996, 2000 and 2001 sales found that an average of 68 percent of these bin purchasers still use them. Of the 32 percent of bin owners who stopped using their bins or never used them in the first place, half are using another method to compost. Overall, 84 percent of residents that purchased a bin are still using some method to compost.
On an 11-point scale, residents rated their satisfaction with their Earth Machine compost bin as a 7.3 (10 = Extremely satisfied and 0 = Not at all satisfied). Residents that were less than fully satisfied (a rating of 8 or lower) cited the following issues:
Of 320 respondents that tried composting yard debris, 91 percent continued to compost and 9 percent stopped. Composting food scraps proved more challenging. Of 231 respondents that started food composting, 78 percent continued it and 22 percent stopped. Frequent reasons for stopping yard debris or food scrap composting were:
About 15 percent of all respondents in single-family/mobile homes reported using a Metro bin to compost. Both non-composters (17 percent) and composters (20 percent) were interested in purchasing bins in the next two years. Almost 19 percent of the Metro general population would be interested in purchasing a compost bin in this period if price, distribution and outreach were not factors. This equates to a potential annual demand of 37,000 bins.
Seventeen percent thought the weekend sale was convenient. Distribution options that were considered more convenient included a combination weekend-weekday sale (30 percent), sale through neighborhood association (35 percent) and home delivery (59 percent).
More than one-quarter (28 percent) of all households buy compost annually or more frequently to use on their garden or lawn. Households that compost in their backyard are significantly more likely to buy compost than non-composters (34 percent versus 20 percent).
No. More than one-third (37 percent) of households with lawns responded that they had used weed-and-feed products on their lawn, a response that did not vary with reported purchases or non-purchases of compost. This finding suggests that households mainly use their compost in gardens (rather than on their lawns) and that natural lawn management with compost and organic fertilizers remains a key opportunity for education and outreach.
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