HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — After a successful test with a pilot program, the Ottawa County Department of Public Health has expanded its food composting program.

Now, all four sustainability centers — located in Holland, Grand Haven, Coopersville and Georgetown Township — will collect food waste.

Kim Wolters, an environmental health supervisor with the OCDPH, said the program is another way to keep more recyclables out of our landfills.

“A healthy community starts from the ground up,” Wolters told News 8. “It’s for anyone who wants to do the right thing and to start composting just like they do with residential recycling.”

Wolters says composting is great for the environment on two fronts: It keeps material out of our landfills and can serve as an excellent fertilizer.

Two buckets designated to hold food waste at an Ottawa County Sustainability Center. (Courtesy OCDPH)

“With food composting, there are a lot of (benefits) besides just helping our landfills last longer,” Wolters said. “There are benefits of reduced greenhouse emissions (from our landfills). Composting increases water retention in our soils and decreases the amount of chemical fertilizers that we use because compost is naturally enriching. We’re enriching the soils through natural means versus chemical means, and it makes healthier and stronger plants.”

She also notes the program is not meant to deter backyard composters but to provide the public with another positive alternative.

“We actually want to start helping them, too,” Wolters said. “We’ve connected with other local composters, master composters in the area, so that we can provide that expert information on our website, as well. (Not everyone) can do it in their backyard. They either don’t have one because they’re in an apartment or a condo or don’t have space to do it in their backyard, or maybe their association for some reason won’t allow for it.”

Compostable bags are available for purchase, $5 for one bag or $12 for three bags. Communities or businesses can also sign up for a bin exchange program that costs $40 per month.

While the Ottawa County Department of Public Health is running the program, Wolters said people from outside of the county can take part. You can learn more about the program through the county’s website.