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Urban Composting Comes To DC

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By Sabri Ben-Achour

There's not a lot of room for compost heaps in the city, so urban living doesn't usually mix too well with composting. But perhaps not anymore.

In the basement of Surfside restaurant on Wisconsin avenue in Northwest, the aroma of avocado, lemon and cilantro infuses the air like perfume. Prep staff are making a mountain of guacamole and waste - pits and skins. They have to empty their large trash cans 7 or 8 times a day.

"You're talking about doing at least a couple of tons a week, you can create 600 or 800 pounds of soil just out of that," says Jeremy Brosowsky.

He drives the Compost Cab. It's a lemon yellow pickup truck that's going to start driving through D.C., picking up people's scraps for a few dollars each week. The scraps will be composted into soil. Some gets returned to customers if they want it, and some goes to a nonprofit urban farm in College Park, Maryland. Brosowsky is trying to sign up David Scribner, one of the chefs at Surfside.

"Why not, let's give it a shot, we have a huge volume of compostable material here that's just getting dumped in a landfill," says Scribner.

Brosowsky wants composting to be as ubiquitous as recycling. He's dropping off special airtight bins to several dozen residential subscribers, the first pick up is set for the week of Labor Day.

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