By Melissa Grieco
Underway for only a month, the City of Rye Food Scrap Recycling Pilot Program is already off to an auspicious start.
Food Scrap Recycling plays a vital role in reducing the carbon footprint of our everyday lives and helps return depleted nutrients to the soil and food web.
Modeled after Scarsdale’s successful program, Rye’s six-month pilot is comprised of food scrap drop-off which is open to all residents and curbside pickup service on Wednesdays for a limited number of households.
Drop offs of food scraps at Disbrow Park (141 Oakland Beach Avenue) can be made as often as residents need or wish to Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Just three weeks into the pilot, the total number of Rye households participating approached 300 (5% of the population) with more registrations coming in each day. State Assemblyman Steve Otis and County Executive George Latimer are amongst the many Rye residents who have enthusiastically embraced “scrapping”.
Since the launch of the program, over 3.5 tons of scraps have been collected, including meat, fish, bones, shells, grains, dairy, paper towels, fruit, vegetables and even facial tissues, dog fur, and human hair.
These scraps have been consolidated at the Suburban Carting transfer station with scraps from neighboring communities (eleven other Westchester County municipalities are also food scrap recycling) and have made their way to a facility in Ulster County where they will be turned into nutrient-rich compost during a three-month long process.
Due to its higher water content, food waste is hard to burn and puts an undue load on the Charles Point incinerator in Peekskill, which is where the City of Rye’s municipal solid waste (i.e. regular trash) gets sent.
Instead of this valuable resource being tossed into the garbage bin and ultimately burned, Rye residents are now able to divert scraps to their odor-proof kitchen collection pails for dropoff or pickup.
If it were measured as a country, global food waste would represent the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States and China. However, turning food waste into compost produces negligible greenhouse gas emissions (mostly from the operation of tractors and other equipment) and restores the health of our soil. Given these facts, Rye residents can feel really good about participating in the pilot program.
The Rye Sustainability Committee encourages all residents to start scrapping. Registration is easy, just complete the online sign-up form (click on the yellow banana icon) at ryeny.gov/services/trash-and-recyclable-pickup-public-works, then pick up your $20 starter kit at DPW.
For more details about the program, visit www.ryesustainability.com/composting-initiative.
<The author is the chair of the Rye Sustainability Committee.>