It's a valuable resource that often ends up tossed out with the trash. But now, officials in Tompkins County are making it easier to turn your food scraps into fresh compost. Tamara Lindstrom tells us about a program designed to divert compostable materials from ending up in a landfill.
TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. -- With a goal of diverting 75 percent of waste from the landfill, Tompkins County officials are taking recycling to the next level.
"It really is the next frontier of recycling," said Geoff Dunn, Communication and Administrative Coordinator for the Tompkins County Solid Waste Management Division. "It's going to be an integral part of reaching our goal in Tompkins County of 75 percent waste diversion by 2016."
That's why they're making food scrap recycling easier than ever, accepting it for compost at the Recycling and Solid Waste Center.
"You can put in all food. But one of the things that is different is you can put in meat, bones and dairy, the fats and oils that you normally wouldn't put in your home compost bin. You can also do the compostable disposables," said Kat McCarthy, Waste Reduction and Recycling Specialist.
However, plastics, glass, Styrofoam, metals and pet waste have to stay out.
County residents can swing by the recycling center and pick up their free kitchen caddy and the compostable bags to line it with. They're designed to keep the process clean, comfortable and convenient.
Starting next month, a pilot program will test out curbside pickup of compostables.
"The pilot begins with a roughly 400 households on Ithaca's West Hill and we'll expand from there," Dunn said. "So the idea is that eventually curbside food scraps recycling is going to come to most of Tompkins County. This is a chance for folks to get used to that process."
"We look at this as a program that's a win, win," McCarthy said. "Because it's taking the smelly stuff out of your trash. It's taking the heavy stuff out of the trash, which means that you can wait longer before you put it at the curb for trash pickup. And that also helps save you money."
Making the prospect of composting that leftover food a lot more appealing.
The county has diverted about 60 percent of its waste from the landfill and the food scrap program will account for another ten percent. Their goal is to offer county-wide home pickup in the next three years.