The City of San Antonio, Texas offers residential yard trimmings and food waste collection to 351,000 households. The program, which began in 2017, diverts about 68,000 tons of organics annually. In spring of 2020, the city negotiated a 10-year contract with South Carolina-based Atlas Organics to construct and operate a composting facility at the city’s Nelson Gardens Landfill, where there is an existing brush recycling operation. Atlas is leasing the site and charging the city a fee of $27.50/ton for processing green cart material; it is responsible for facility permitting and overseeing the design and construction of a processing facility and composting infrastructure to include two Rotochopper electric shredders, a pick line, and one Rotochopper B66 electric grinder. The project is a joint investment of $10.5 million with contributions from both Atlas Organics and the City.
The facility will start processing organics in January 2021. Atlas estimates that 15 local jobs will be created. The company plans to focus on composting and addressing contamination challenges in the current food waste feedstock. Its contract with the city minimizes rejection of loads due to contamination, which was a challenge with the previous service provider. In a presentation to the San Antonio City Council in April 2020, David Newman, Director of the city’s Solid Waste Management Department noted that eliminating load rejections will yield an annual savings of $600,000. To help address contamination, Atlas will do more outreach and education to city residents in addition to putting in place screening methods prior to the composting process..