Sullivan considers food scraps recycling 

MONTICELLO, NY — Funded by a grant from the New York State Climate Smart Communities Program, a specialist in food scrap recycling visited the Sullivan County Legislature to talk about food scraps in the county’s waste stream last Thursday.

Gregory McCarron, vice president of SCS Engineering, said the county currently sends about 44,000 tons of municipal solid waste to the Seneca Meadows Landfill every year, and 20 to 25% is food scraps or compostable material.  If that material could be diverted from the waste stream and recycled, the savings to the county could be $200,000 per year.

McCarron said there was a bill in this year’s budget legislation that will require large generators of compostable material, such as Resorts World Catskills and Bethel Woods, to recycle food scraps and other compostable materials if there is a composting facility within 25 miles. This would include restaurants that produce more than two tons of compostable material per week.

There is a range of options for the county to consider if legislators decide to move forward with a program to recycle food scraps. One would be simply to add food scrap bins to the bins that already exist at the transfer stations. That material could then be transferred to a private facility to finish the recycling process, such as one that exists in Kerhonkson. The cost would almost certainly be less expensive than shipping the material upstate, McCarron said.

Another option would be community-centered recycling, in which each town or hamlet might set up a small, local composting program as has been done in communities around the country.

A third option would be a large, centralized composting system such as the one that has been established in Ulster County. There, the county charges $20 a ton to accept food scraps and other material. It turns that material into compost and sells it for $30 a ton. That would involve a significant investment, but would ultimately pay for itself and at the same time reduce the county’s carbon footprint.

Asked if a composting operation would generate an offensive smell, McCarron said, “not if it’s done right, but it has to be done right.” 

He said he was seeking input from the legislature as to which kind of compostable recycling program they would like to pursue.


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