A residential compost pilot program in Frederick has diverted about 550,000 pounds of organic waste from being sent to a landfill, city officials said Tuesday.

The pilot, which is just under 2 years old, includes 1,164 households participating in the free compost collection program through Key City Compost. The total amount of diverted waste is 574,670 pounds as of the end of April.

In a statement, Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor said he continues “to encourage residents to sign up for the composting program and join in on our efforts to protect and enhance our environment.”

Though it started only in select neighborhoods, any resident who lives in Frederick’s city limits is eligible to sign up for the pilot program. While in pilot status, the city covers all the costs for residents.

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The city has put $100,000 of its fiscal year 2025 budget toward the ongoing pilot program and has received a $200,000 grant from the USDA to support it, said Jenny Willoughby, a sustainability manager for the city.

The grant expires in June 2025, Willoughby said. But city officials could choose to make the compost program a permanent city service before then. If it doesn’t become a permanent service, residents enrolled in the pilot could become paying customers, with a monthly fee, or leave the program.

“Our elected officials will make the determination if the program becomes permanent, based on the data we collect from this pilot,” Willoughby said in an email.

Key City Compost handles all the collection and takes the material to their facility in Frederick County. The company offers residential and commercial organic waste collection, creates soil and compost products and also has an operation that sells compostable food service products.

Composting is “nature’s way of recycling,” a controlled process that converts organic waste — such as food scraps, yard trimmings or wood chips — into compost, a material that can be added to soil to improve its quality.

Baltimore does not have residential compost collection, but does offer drop-off locations for food scraps. The Baltimore Compost Collective is a private, local service that offers compost collection in select neighborhoods.