Under the leadership of County Executive George Latimer, the County is moving forward with two food scrap recycling programs to create a more environmentally sustainable Westchester while also saving taxpayer money for local municipalities.
Latimer said: “Food Scrap Recycling has been a priority for my Administration since we first took office. These two initiatives, the Food Scrap Transportation and Disposal program and the Compost & Education Center, will provide a tremendous boost to the County’s food scrap recycling efforts and ensure that Westchester stays in the forefront of municipal sustainability.”
After soliciting bids for its Residential Food Scrap Transportation and Disposal (RFSTAD) program, the County’s Department of Environmental Facilities (DEF) has awarded a contract to Suburban Carting. This partnership will allow the County to coordinate the transportation and disposal of residential food scraps collected through local municipal programs. Municipalities will be able to deliver food scraps collected through either curbside collection or municipal drop-off programs to Suburban Carting’s transfer station in Mamaroneck.
Alternatively, a municipality unable to deliver the material can have its designated drop-off area serviced by Suburban under the RFSTAD program. DEF will offer this program to Refuse Disposal District municipalities at the same rate as for garbage disposal, or even less to any municipality bringing the food scraps to Suburban’s transfer station. These rates are considerably less than municipalities are currently paying for comparable food scrap recycling services because the County Refuse Disposal District will be subsidizing the cost, saving participating municipalities a significant amount of money. The lower cost will also pave the way for municipalities that were unable to afford to offer food scrap recycling to launch programs.
At the same time, DEF is moving forward with the design and construction of a Compost & Education Center (CompostED) that will be located next to the County’s Household-Material Recovery Facility. The small-scale compost facility will act as a demonstration site for local municipalities on the composting process, and offer educational programs for residents, municipal officials, and students. The County is currently considering different methods for collecting the 2 tons of food scraps that will be processed at the facility each week, including partnering with municipal farmer’s markets to set up collection bins, or working with institutions located nearby on the Grasslands Campus.
Deputy Commissioner of Environmental Facilities Louis Vetrone said: “The goal for the Compost and Education Center is to demonstrate to municipalities and other organizations how they can integrate local composting into their waste management plans and ultimately save money and reduce greenhouse gasses by doing so. The department is also excited for the opportunity to educate residents and students about the environmental benefits of composting.”
According to the County’s recently completed Food Waste Study, 22% of Westchester’s residential waste stream is comprised of food scraps, while food waste comprise 21% of the commercial waste stream. Currently, only 22,000 tons of commercial food waste are recycled annually, mostly at supermarkets. It is difficult to estimate the amount of residential food scraps being recycled since many residents compost in their backyards.