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Albany Kicks Off New Food Waste Composting Program

Albany officials kick off composting initiative.
Mayor Kathy Sheehan
Albany officials kick off composting initiative.

A pilot compost program is starting up in Albany in a bid to keep food scraps out of the city landfill.Albany's Re-imagined Waste Reduction and Recycling initiative is offering composting alternatives Mayor Kathy Sheehan says will give residents multiple voluntary options to divert their food waste from the Rapp Road Landfill.

"Approximately 20% of trash that goes into our landfill is discarded food. And when food decomposes in the landfill, it creates methane, which is a very powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. So we are dedicated to doing all that we can to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. And as a result, we have worked really hard to put together a new composting program to help our city of Albany residents deal with leftover food in an environmentally and economically responsible way."

Deputy Commissioner of the Department of General Services Frank Zeoli says a $225,000 grant made the program possible.

"So about two years ago, a grant was announced from the Department of Environmental Conservation in the state of New York, to do the food waste composting, food waste donation and food waste reduction. So the whole idea behind the grant was, you know, to educate people on how that they could divert their food waste in many ways, whether it's composting, whether it's just reducing the amount of food waste that they consume, or you know, food waste donation to food pantries and such."

Zeoli says the three-pronged program will enable every household to recycle while reducing greenhouse gases.

"Basically, you conduct your composting in your backyard. So we provide you with a composter, we provide you with a kitchen scraps bin with additional brown organics that you would need to compost, and all the educational materials, so you understand exactly what you're doing and how to do it. So that is the first option. And that's for somebody who really wants to be more hands on. The second option is for somebody who, you know, may not have the time to do this, or they don't have the backyard space, but they really want to do it. So we'll provide you with the kitchen bin, you'll save your food scraps, you know, we'll give you the education, you'll save your food scraps, and then you'll drop them off at numerous locations throughout the city that that we have set up and then that will be taken to a composting facility to be to be composted."

Credit AlbanyRecycles.com

Zeoli adds the city has partnered with the Friends of Tivoli Preserve and the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center to provide drop-off locations where residents can bring their food scraps and discard them into containers designated specifically to collect organic materials.

"Or the third option, which is is a great option for full service for people who don't want to do anything but take it and get it collected at their house. So they would put their food scraps inside of the bin, put the bin at the curb or put the bin at the front door. And one of two companies that we are dealing with will come pick it up and take it to their facility to be compost. That is for a small fee."

Sheehan and Zeoli encourage residents to sign up online at AlbanyRecycles.com, fill out the form there and select which of the three options best suits your household needs.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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