Man at podium gives presentation to full room

Check out a video from Teatown Lake Reservation on composting and food scraps HERE.

Watch full press conference HERE.

The Natural Resources Defense Council estimated that 40 percent of food in the United States is wasted.  At the same time, nearly 2.5 million New Yorkers struggle to have enough to eat. Additionally, food also makes up 18% of our solid waste stream. That is why Westchester County Executive George Latimer has made it a priority to advance “food waste recovery and recycling” here in our own backyards.

Identifying food waste as the next step in reducing waste and recycling, Latimer has unveiled a comprehensive Food Waste Study by Woodard & Curran, and announced a three-part immediate action plan to address the growing issue. 

Latimer said: “Food insecurity and food waste are two sides of the same problem. The County continues to support efforts to reduce food waste and encourage food donations to assist those in need, while supporting municipal endeavors to recycle food scraps. The result of the study and the action steps being proposed will assist municipalities in achieving their goals.”

Food Waste Study

According to the study done by Woodard & Curran, here in Westchester commercial businesses generate roughly 125,000 tons a year of food waste. Of this, 103,000 tons a year are disposed with only 22,000 tons of food waste recovered yearly (mostly done privately at supermarkets). Most notably, 21% of all commercial waste is food waste.  On the residential side, roughly 85,537 tons a year of food waste is generated and disposed of. While it is unknown how much is being composted in resident’s backyards, it can be estimated that 22% of all residential waste is food scraps.

The study outlines both mid and long term recommendations for the County to consider. These include goals like co-locating a small “anaerobic digester” next to the Wheelabrator Facility in Peekskill, utilizing “co-digestion” at Peekskill Water Resource Recovery Facility and/or locating a large standalone “food waste digester” in Westchester County.

Action Steps

Latimer outlined next steps for a Westchester County Food Scrap Recycling Transport and Disposal Program. This would work by having the County solicit bids for County-wide hauling services. The program will be opened to all municipalities within refuse disposal district #1 with two options: 1) municipalities can continue or establish a program for curbside pick-up of residential food scraps and transport those to the hauler’s transfer station with each municipality paying for the pick-up and transportation to the hauler; and/or 2) the creation of a municipal drop-off area for collection of residential food scraps where the hauler would pick up from the location, which is essentially cost neutral for the municipalities.

In the meantime, the County’s Department of Environmental Facilities has begun planning for the creation of a Westchester County Compost & Education Facility. Partnering with a neighboring municipality, the County will establish a small-scale composting site at the Household Hazardous Material Recovery Facility (“H-MRF”) on the County’s Grasslands campus. The Facility will provide hands-on education for residents, students, and municipal officials. Compost created at this site would be given to County residents for free with the remainder to be given to County Parks Department.

Department of Environmental Facilities Commissioner Vincent Kopicki said: “The Food Waste Study has provided important information and proposed long-term solutions for large scale food waste handling. DEF is excited to begin implementing our plan to assist district municipalities currently handling food scraps and, more importantly, allow other municipalities to launch these programs.”

Lastly, Latimer outlined steps currently being taken to implement a 6-week pilot program where scraps from a local municipality will be delivered to the Yonkers Transfer Station. These scraps will then be hauled to Ulster County for composting.

Director of Energy & Sustainability Peter McCartt said: “The County, DEF, and Westchester residents have always taken pride in being leaders in environmental management. These food scrap initiatives will ensure that Westchester continues to lead on sustainability matters for years to come.”