Worm poop might not top the list of things Baker City residents think they need, but David Henry, president of Baker Sanitary Service, thinks that substance might help the city become more environmentally sustainable.
Henry has applied with the Baker County Planning Commission for a permit to build a new composting facility at Baker Sanitary’s landfill a few miles southeast of Baker City.
“This is a new thing, we haven’t had any composting in the past,” Henry said.
He said materials that can be composted, including food waste and yard debris, make up a sizable portion of the trash buried in the landfill.
“We wanted to find ways to better handle the waste produced, and this seemed like a pretty reasonable investment,” Henry said.
The county planning commission will consider Baker Sanitary’s application at about 6 p.m. during its Aug. 11 meeting.
If planners agree to modify the company’s existing conditional use permit for the landfill, Henry said he would start by using food waste from businesses and stores.
If the composting facility works as intended for the first year or so, Baker Sanitary would open it to the public, making available to customers a container specifically for lawn clippings or food waste.
The composting facility would include two separate systems. The first is a Sustainable Generation Mobile System, essentially a giant tarp covering compost materials. This would allow the organic materials to break down and create compost.
The compost then would go into a second system, a Continuous Flow Through Vermicomposting system. The CFT is basically a worm city, where worms can live and work, breaking down the compost into even richer and higher-quality compost. This process is called “vermicomposting.”
“We’ll use the worms to develop a more concentrated mulch, and then sell it at some point,” Henry said.
Henry said that Baker Sanitary will likely sell the product both commercially and to local residents if everything goes to plan.
He said the system is designed to limit odors.
Baker Sanitary’s application to the county says the composting system would make the landfill more sustainable.
Pending approval from the planning commission, Henry said the system could start producing its first batch of worm-assisted compost by September.