Albany, New York: Composting, Food Recovery And Ad Grant Awards
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) awarded $3.5 million to support food donation and municipal organics recycling projects across the state through the Environmental Protection Fund’s Municipal Recycling and Climate Smart Communities grant programs. Composting grant awardees include:
• $420,490 to the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency to support food scraps composting by purchasing a grinder for bulking material, skid steer, and temperature monitoring system.
• $238,615 to the town of Bethlehem to expand its food scraps composting operation by purchasing a compost screener and aeration equipment, and to pave a portion of the composting facility and improve operation of the aerated static pile food scraps composting project.
• $25,637 to the Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities to purchase an in-vessel composting unit to process food scraps generated by a community college, medical center, and regional food bank.
• $77,500 to Sullivan County’s Division of Public Works/Solid Waste Management to hire a consulting engineering firm to conduct an organics composting feasibility study with preliminary siting and conceptual design.
Grants covering food recovery include:
• $205,500 to the Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority to fund three food distribution centers to distribute fresh produce and nonperishable items to smaller community food pantries. Purchases will include refrigerated trucks, walk-in coolers/freezers, small refrigerator/freezers, and shelving for food storage.
• $17,190 to the town of New Paltz, in partnership with Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, to continue building a Food Recovery Infrastructure program to increase the amount perishable food donated to local pantries. The purchase and installation of two insulated Cool Bot® refrigerated sheds will allow large quantities of perishable donations to be stored for several days until distribution.
Two grants were awarded to anaerobic digestion-related projects: $276,407 to Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority to support the anaerobic digestion of food scraps to generate energy; and $1.3 million to Onondaga County, which will construct improvements at the Metropolitan Waste Water Treatment Plant in Syracuse to enable the plant to utilize biogas produced as a result of accepting food waste into its digestion system.
Auckland, New Zealand: Online Composting Platform
A new initiative is connecting gardeners willing to share their composting heaps with residents of Auckland looking to live more sustainably. “We connect people who wish to recycle their kitchen scraps with their neighbours who are already composting, worm-farming or keep chickens,” according to the Sharewaste website. “Now you can divert waste from landfill while getting to know the people around you!” People who are composting can register with the Sharewaste app on the website. Those who want to compost but don’t have a bin at their place, such as apartment dwellers, can also register, allowing them to find and connect with the nearest residents who are willing to accept their organics. The composters accept fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds, egg shells, leaves, tissue, flowers, wood shavings, clippings and cotton pads.
Sharewaste was originally estabilished in Australia. The new service has partnered with the Auckland Council-funded organization Compost Collective, which aims to promote household composting and waste reduction.
Greenfield, Massachusetts: Worker Co-Op Collection Service
Residents and small businesses in Greenfield will get their first curbside organics collection service this spring. The Compost Co-operative, a worker-owned enterprise, is being formed by former Franklin County House of Corrections inmates and educators that work at the prison, with a goal of facilitating the inmates’, successful reintegration into the community. “One of the benefits of being teachers at the jail [is that] we have developed relationships,” explains Andrew Stachiw. “There are folks who have worked on this project [who are still] inside the jail, and a number of folks who … are out now.” He adds that successful co-ops are those where worker-owners help design the business, which is the case with The Compost Co-operative.
The new enterprise expects to begin taking sign-ups for its pedal-powered weekly and biweekly pickup of food and green waste in March for apartments and houses in downtown Greenfield. In an initial testing phase, both the weekly and biweekly services will use 5-gallon buckets. The Co-op also is marketing to commercial and institutional customers, including the prison, says Stachiw. Collected organics will be taken to Martin’s Farm Compost & Mulch in Greenfield, which has a new composting permit that increases its allowed food waste tonnage from 15 to 22 tons/days, notes owner Adam Martin.
Everett, Washington: Composting And Carbon Credits
As part of the Seattle Seahawks football team’s ongoing sustainability efforts, Delta Air Lines, the Official Airline of the Seahawks, has offset carbon emissions from the miles the Seahawks traveled during the 2017 season — 25,690 miles — by purchasing 1,080 carbon credits from Cedar Grove Composting in Everett. Delta’s carbon offset program, which launched in 2007, was the first offered by a U.S. carrier to allow travelers to offset travel emissions by investing in environmentally friendly projects around the world.
The Seahawks divert approximately 16.4 tons of food waste from landfills per home game at CenturyLink Field, which is composted at Cedar Grove. In October 2017, the Seahawks and First & Goal Hospitality (FGH) announced a partnership with Cedar Grove Composting and Sound Sustainable Farms to grow a custom menu of organic vegetables in soil amended with compost to be served on game day at the stadium. In January, CenturyLink Field earned a “WasteWise” award from the Environmental Protection Agency for its waste reduction initiatives.
Dallas, Texas: Investor Group Funds Composter
Last July, Bain Capital Double Impact, the impact investing group of Bain Capital, completed a private investment in Living Earth, headquartered in Dallas, Texas. According to Bain, Living Earth is the largest commercial recycler of organics landscaping materials in Texas (see “Large-Scale Composting, Texas Style,” January 2015). “We believe there are attractive opportunities to expand Living Earth’s reach given their approach to reducing landfill waste and doing so in a more energy and resource efficient way,” said Deval Patrick, Managing Director at Bain Capital Double Impact, noting the firm will employ its resources and operational capabilities to help the management team “achieve greater scale while maximizing their mission potential.”
Added Mark Rose, president of Living Earth: “The Living Earth team is very pleased to partner with Bain Capital Double Impact, and we believe that the team’s financial and operational strength will help us reach our potential. This investment will support our accelerated growth into new markets and allow us to expand our product and service offerings and our municipal and retail partnerships.” SJF Ventures, which invests in high-growth companies “creating a healthier, smarter and cleaner future,” also participated in the investment.
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Spreading The Compost Message
The City of Cambridge is rolling out its residential food waste curbside collection program citywide in April 2018. Organics will be collected from all one to 12 unit residential buildings. This will increase the program from 5,200 households to 25,000 households (8,100 buildings). Food scraps and compostable products will be picked up weekly on the same day as trash and recycling. To provide outreach about the upcoming citywide roll out of the curbside organics program, the City is working with MassRecycle, the state’s recycling association, to place educational signage on Public Space Recycling kiosks at five Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) transit stops in Cambridge. These stops service almost a quarter of a million riders daily, according to MassRecycle.