by Dean Gallea, Tarrytown Environmental Advisory Committee (TEAC) Co-Chair
Tarrytown has joined a handful of other Westchester communities in collecting food scraps for composting, keeping them out of the Village’s waste stream that ultimately gets incinerated.
The Village of Tarrytown has established a drop-off location, open daily from 8 a.m. -8p.m., for household food scraps – trimmings, leftover, spoiled or expired food. There are specially-marked rolling totes in place between the Recreation Center and Senior Center (at Pierson Park) to collect food scraps from Tarrytown residents. The collected food scraps get transferred to a commercial composting facility upstate to be recycled into nutrient-rich compost.
To make the collection process convenient, Tarrytown is selling, at their $20 cost, a kit consisting of a small indoor countertop bin, a roll of 25 compostable collection bags, and a larger, locking outdoor bin. They are available at the Village Hall, the Recreation Center, and Warner Library. Extra bags are also available at the Rec Center for $2 per roll. The small bin is lined with a compostable bag, and when filled, the bag is tied closed and placed in the outdoor bin. When that is filled (or within a week or two), the outdoor bin may be taken to the drop-off location and emptied into the food-scrap totes.
Though the finished compost doesn’t come directly back to the Village, an advantage to commercial composting is that it accepts a wider array of food items that don’t break down in backyard compost piles. This includes meat, bones, shells, dairy, and uncoated paper that may have food on it so it can’t go into the paper recycling.
It’s important to keep plastic (including “biodegradable” bags), baby wipes, diapers and pet waste out of composting bins. Plastic bags should be brought to marked collection bins at larger stores like Stop & Shop, C-Town and CVS from where they are recycled into products like plastic lumber.
The Village and the Environmental Advisory Council (TEAC) encourage all residents to join in this effort toward a “zero-waste” future, and a sustainable environment.
Why recycle food scraps? They are one of the heaviest components of trash sent to landfills and incinerators. However, food scraps are not trash, they are a resource that can be turned into useful compost. Recycling food scraps into compost captures their nutrients and energy and returns them to the environment. When food scraps are sent to a landfill or incinerator this resource is lost. In a landfill, food scraps create methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas that traps CO2 and contributes to global warming. When sent to an incinerator, food scraps reduce the efficiency of the incinerator because they contain water and therefore don’t burn well. Composting food scraps turns that story around! Instead of wasting energy trying to burn food, or creating methane from landfilling it, composting food scraps produces a useful and valuable product that gives back to our nutrient life cycle resulting in cleaner soil, water and air.