Tompkins Food Scrap Pick-Up Launches Soon

Tompkins begins to offer collection bins for kitchen composting...

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Geoff Dunn, a spokesman for the Tompkins County Solid Waste Division, shows a bin residents may get to gather food scraps to take to the Recycling and Solid Waste Center at 122 Commercial Ave. in Ithaca. (SIMON WHEELER)
Geoff Dunn, a spokesman for the Tompkins County Solid Waste Division, shows a bin residents may get to gather food scraps to take to the Recycling and Solid Waste Center at 122 Commercial Ave. in Ithaca. (SIMON WHEELER)

By Andrew Casler via the Ithaca Journal, 10/17/13

ITHACA — About 400 households on West Hill will have curbside food-scrap pickup starting Nov. 15. After that, the plan is to include most Tompkins County residents in the program by 2016.

The program is funded by Tompkins County solid-waste fees levied on property. The Solid Waste Division budget for the pilot’s first two months is $5,501.

The pilot program will increase Solid Waste’s compost collections by 602 tons between this November and October 2014, according to division spokesman Geoff Dunn, a Village of Dryden resident.

The service is an integral part of the county’s goal of diverting 75 percent of the solid-waste stream from landfills, up from the current 60 percent, according to the county.

At Solid Waste’s public food-scrap dropoff, about three tons of food scraps a month are collected now.

The division hasn’t determined which neighborhood will be included in the pilotprogram next, Dunn said.

“We’re going to start with about 400 households, and really work out the kinks in that — find out what works, what doesn’t — and then expand that throughout the county with roughly a three-year time frame,” he said.

Under the program, Tompkins County residents can cut down on how many trash tags they need to buy, Dunn said.

“The more food waste that you recycle, the less it’s going into your garbage stream, so the less you’re going to pay for trash tags,” he said.

The pickups are free, along with composting kits, Dunn added.

Composting kits are available at the Solid Waste Division Office, 122 Commercial Ave. The kit includes a bin for food scraps, compostable bags and information pamphlets.

The program also will allow people to compost some things that aren’t typically broken down within backyard compost bins, he said.

“For example, your meat, bones and dairy ... soiled napkins, paper plates — they can all go into your food-scrap recycling bin,” Dunn said. “If you put that in your backyard bin, it would take forever to break down.”

The curbside bins have stickers telling users what items are OK to compost, said Solid Waste’s recycling specialist, Kat McCarthy, of the City of Ithaca.

“I think one of the big things we’ve seen in a lot of these programs is that the education piece is key,” she said.

The food-scrap bins can have bread, compost­able utensils and food containers, meat, bones, paper and other materials. They can’t have baby diapers, glass, metal, pet waste, foam, plastic or yard waste.

A $161,505 bid won Casella Waste Systems Inc., of Newfield, the contract for picking up the food scraps.

Casella is contracted to carry out the program from Nov. 15 through 2016.

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