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The County continues to be a regional leader in environmental management with record curbside recycling and new food scrap recycling programs.

Sunday, Nov. 15, is National Recycling Day, providing the perfect opportunity to applaud Westchester’s residents for their commitment to recycling their household waste.

Due to the dedication of our residents, Westchester consistently posts some of the highest recycling rates in the region. This year, with so many residents at home and students attending virtual classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Westchester residents have recycled at an unprecedented rate.

County Executive George Latimer said: “When I was elected to lead Westchester, I made a commitment to improving the environment for all Westchester residents. Our team at the Department of Environmental Facilities (DEF) has taken this commitment seriously. Together, we’ve developed a way to host public events with COVID-19 precautions, established the Transportation and Disposal program to allow communities previously unable to afford food scrap recycling a path to do so, and envisioned CompostEd to provide composting education for all County residents.”

According to data compiled by DEF, the agency responsible for managing the County’s refuse disposal and recycling programs, residential curbside recycling was up almost 31 percent in September compared to September 2019. For the year, curbside recycling is up over 10.5 percent compared to last year. Revenue from the sale of recyclables has also increased significantly, with the recyclables market beginning to rebound after being mired in a deep recession the past couple of years. Recycling revenue was up a whopping 107 percent in September 2020 compared to September 2019 and is up almost 10 percent for the year.

DEF Deputy Commissioner Louis Vetrone said: “We’re fortunate in Westchester that our residents are diligent in cleaning recyclables and separating them properly. This dedication combined with the state-of-the-art equipment we’ve installed at the County’s Material Recovery Facility allowed the County to continue to sell its recyclables over the past couple of years, while programs around the country faltered. With the added material collected these past few months, we’ve been in a position to take advantage of the markets.” As a result of the increased revenue, the County’s Refuse District is able to offer new programs related to food scrap recycling.

DEF’s two new food scrap initiatives include the Residential Food Scrap Transportation and Disposal (RFSTAD) Program and CompostED. Under RFSTAD, any District municipality can participate in food scrap recycling for the same-- or less than-- the transportation and disposal cost of garbage. Incorporating grant funding from NYSDEC for start up materials, allows local municipalities to start these programs for a few thousand dollars.

The County is also near to breaking ground on CompostED, DEF’s new Compost and Education Facility in Valhalla. CompostED will be a small scale compost demonstration facility, offering educational tours and classes on the benefits of composting and for municipalities on incorporating food scraps in municipal yard waste composting activities.

In addition to the uptick in curbside recycling, DEF has also seen record numbers of residents utilizing the services offered at the County’s Household-Material Recovery Facility (H-MRF) at 15 Woods Road on the Valhalla Campus. Between Aug.1 and Oct. 31, the H-MRF had 4,703 households visit, including a record number of 1,670 in September, delivering over 262,000 lbs. of household waste.

The H-MRF accepts most items that are not collected curbside, including household cleaning supplies, pesticides, fertilizers, Freon-containing appliances, mercury-containing devices, tires, propane tanks, and electronic waste. In addition, the H-MRF offers document shredding services daily and medication drop-off on the first Tuesday of each month. The facility is open by appointment Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information on the H-MRF or to make an appointment, go to Household Material Recovery Facility

Additionally, on Oct. 24 DEF conducted a Household Recycling Day (HRD) Event at FDR State Park in Yorktown that attracted 840 households delivering household hazardous wastes and 550 utilizing the shredder. Residents can bring all of the same items to the HRD Events that are accepted at the H-MRF. The next HRD Event is scheduled for this Saturday, Nov. 14 at Playland Park. For more information, visit our DEF Facebook page at Facebook.com/WestchesterCountyDEF.