By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
CATSKILL — A pilot program will help Greene County residents put food waste to good use.
The “Help Greene Grow Green” program will reduce waste generated by county residents by composting food waste rather than tossing it into a landfill.
Compost is organic materials that can be added to the soil to help plants grow. It is composed largely of food scraps and yard waste, which makes up more than 30% of trash, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas,” according to the agency.
Greene County Solid Waste Management, which operates the county’s transfer stations, will launch the pilot program at the Catskill facility, but it will be open to all residents of Greene County.
If successful, the program could expand to other county transfer stations.
“The Legislature is committed to reducing the amount of waste being shipped out of Greene County,” said Greene County Legislature Vice Chairman Matthew Luvera, R-Catskill. “This new composting machine will do just that for residents and in the next phase for businesses.”
The county purchased an EcoRich machine, which transforms food waste into finished compost. The purchase was funded through a grant from the Department of Environmental Conservation that will reimburse the county for 50% of the cost of the machine and special compostable bags.
The machine is easy to use and odor- and pest-free, according to the county.
The compostable bags will be provided to residents free of charge and dropping their food waste into the machine can also be done at no charge.
When the composting machine reaches the end of a cycle, the compost will be made available free to county residents for use in their gardens.
The “Help Greene Grow Green” program will reduce the amount of waste shipped out of the transfer station, saving the county money, and will also help residents by making free compost available.
“We are excited to provide solutions to not only help the environment but reduce the amount of money we pay to send garbage out of county to a landfill,” said Paul Vosburgh, director of Solid Waste. “This will also provide a way to give back to the community through the use of composting for home gardening.”
The compostable bags will be available at the Catskill transfer station on Route 385 at no charge beginning April 4 and residents will be able to drop off their bags for composting April 25. Compost pick-up will depend on when it becomes available. Compost countertop bins can be purchased for $5 at the Catskill station to store and transport the food waste.