Compost and Education Center Breaks Ground
County Executive George Latimer joined Westchester County’s Department of Environmental Facilities (DEF), Solid Waste Division, to break ground on the Compost and Education Center (CompostED) in Valhalla.
CompostED will be a small-scale food scrap composting demonstration and education site. The site will provide educational opportunities for County residents, students, and municipal officials on the environmental benefits of composting, the process of composting, and explore the ability of local municipalities to incorporate food scraps into existing organic yard waste composting sites. Westchester-based R. Pugni and Sons, Inc. will be constructing the facility for the County.
Latimer said, “CompostED and the educational opportunity it will bring is the next step in my commitment to addressing food waste. We urge all of our residents and businesses to first reduce waste, then donate excess food to organizations serving those in Westchester who are food insecure. However, for food scraps that cannot be donated, recycling is the best option. This facility will promote food scrap recycling and educate residents, students and municipal officials on implementing it.”
Backyard composting is one way residents can recycle food scraps, and municipal participation in DEF’s Residential Food Scrap Transportation and Disposal Program (RFSTAD) is another way. Under RFSTAD, Refuse District municipalities have access to transportation and disposal of residential food scraps for the same—or less—than disposing of the material as solid waste.
Even during these challenging times, the County and DEF have continued their commitment to the County’s residents and the environment.
DEF Commissioner Vincent Kopicki praised the project adding, “The CompostED facility will raise awareness about food scrap recycling through composting, and will add to the County’s already robust recycling education portfolio. With the support of County Executive Latimer, my Solid Waste team has shown great initiative and effort to imagine and bring this facility to fruition.”
Deputy Commissioner Louis Vetrone noted, “DEF’s Solid Waste Division has developed programs to make food scrap programs accessible for all municipalities, and modified existing programs such as our Household Recycling Days and Shredder Events for safe access. The increased amount of recycling that has been processed during the COVID-19 pandemic shows that County residents have reinforced their commitment to recycling, and we are thankful for the County Executive’s leadership and support in our efforts.”
Director of Energy Conservation & Sustainability Peter McCartt said, “Taking food scraps and organic material, which is actually a valuable resource, out of the waste stream has been an important mission of this administration from day one. Working with DEF we have taken a multi-pronged approach, first selling compost bins at cost to the residents so no trucking is involved, then the new municipal Transportation and Disposal Program, followed by this CompostED demonstration site, and lastly we are working towards a large scale industrial anaerobic facility that will take residential and commercial food scraps.”
Westchester County Climate Task Force Chair Janet Harckham said, “Globally, agriculture and food systems are large contributors to greenhouse gasses and the climate crisis. Education is key to understanding the impacts of our behaviors on climate change. Reducing food waste, food recovery, and composting are needed components for healthier communities. The CompostED program and facility will inform residents and municipal leader, and spur behavior change, it's another great step for the County.”