The City Public Works and Utilities Department has awarded nearly $35,000 in grants to the Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) and the Nebraska Farmers Union to promote commercial waste reduction and recycling. The City received applications from seven businesses and organizations requesting a total of $118,750 in grant funding.
LPS was awarded $20,000 to expand its organic waste composting pilot project by adding nine more schools to the collection program in 2016. Currently, 13 public schools collect food waste and non-recyclable paper and transport it to Prairieland Dairy to compost with dairy cattle manure. The participating schools are diverting 81 percent of cafeteria waste, or 209 tons of organic waste per year. The addition of nine more schools will divert another 132 tons of organic waste. This will bring the amount of organic waste diverted from disposal by the 22 participating schools to 341 tons annually.
The Nebraska Farmer's Union was awarded $14,750 to upgrade its receiving area to more efficiently mix organic waste from schools, charitable organizations and commercial establishments for its "Big Red Worms" vermicomposting program. The program began in August 2015 and is currently collecting over 10 tons of food waste per month, with plans to double that amount.
"These two programs are the first of their kind in the State, and we are pleased we are able to help expand their efforts," said Gene Hanlon, City Recycling Coordinator.
Every year, $40,000 is set aside in the Solid Waste Management budget to promote greater waste reduction and recycling in Lincoln and Lancaster County. The purpose of the program is to assist political jurisdictions, schools, nonprofits and businesses implement innovative waste reduction, reuse and recycling programs that significantly reduce the waste stream going to the landfill.
More information on the grant program is available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: solid waste).