CALVERTON, N.Y. — Long Island’s first food scrap collection program was rolled out on the East End.
Riverhead is collecting scraps from homes and businesses to reduce the waste stream and make compost for local farms. It’s seen as a win-win, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Friday.
The busy Bean and Bagel Cafe in Calverton no longer sends much food waste to landfills. Scraps go into a bucket that gets picked up by the town of Riverhead.
“You don’t really realize how much food you throw away until we started doing this,” said Joanne Leibold. “Any kind of raw vegetable, salad, tomato, strawberry, even banana peels.”
Local residents brought the idea to the town and in just four months, it’s collected 1.6 tons of food scraps from just four restaurants and nine homes.
“I want all the food scraps and I want them put right back in the farm for our food, for our environment, for the water runoff, moisture retention, nutrients, all of it,” said Mark Haubner, from Riverhead’s environmental advisory committee.
The town picks up buckets twice a week, empties them into a pile, and adds yard waste to make compost for local farms. It may not look like much because it shrinks down to produce organic fertilizer.
“Taking 30 percent of the waste stream out of landfills, less tipping fees. It benefits everybody,” said Riverhead engineer Drew Dillingham.
Residents like Karen Kemp say it’s gratifying nothing goes to waste.
“It’s being repurposed to compost and then soil. So it feels good,” said Kemp.
On average, each of us wastes a half a pound of food every day that gets trucked to polluting landfills or incinerators. Even in farm country, needed compost is often trucked in from out of town.
“All the mileage and the tonnage and the traffic and the trucks, it’s just, we would like to be able to do that here for ourselves,” said Haubner.
An easy sell.
“I said we’re going to divert our waste stream and avoid having to pay more taxes in the future,” said Toqui Terchun, from the Calverton Civic Association.
Towns across New York must begin to eliminate table scrap waste as landfills close.
“It’s important because we are running out of space,” said Dillingham.
The town’s goal is to vastly expand the program to many more residents, businesses and schools. The owner of Bean and Bagel Cafe said it’s so easy, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be the norm.
The composting program accepts fruits and vegetables, but no fat, oil, meat or dairy.