Composting’s Cloudy Future in Sonoma County

May 29, 2015

A huge mechanical grinder chews clean wood and brush cuttings into mulch for use on vineyards at the soon-to-be-closed Sonoma Compost facility west of Cotati.
Credit Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  From modest beginnings in the 1990s, commercial composting in Sonoma County has grown into a sizable enterprise, one that has been embraced by both consumers and farmers. But with big changes about to kick in, the future of composting here is uncertain.

Like the greenery surrounding this sign outside the Sonoma Compost offices, the beneficial reuse of local yard waste has grown abundantly over the past two decades.
Credit Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  Alan Siegle, co-owner of Sonoma Compost, recalls how they had to persuade county supervisors to launch the operation more than 20 years ago.

Without a local composting facility, Sonoma County’s yard waste—some 100,000 tons of it per year—will now be trucked away and parceled out to five other facilities, in five surrounding counties. Henry Mikus, Executive Director of the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency, ticks them off.