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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Recycling Leaders Take Next Step

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Recycling Leaders Take Next Step

Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Tompkins County has embarked on a three-year program intended to further reduce the amount of waste generated by businesses and residents in the County.

A $200,000 state grant awarded the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council last week will go to expand the processing of food scraps and yard waste into compost.

"Composting this organic material is the perfect example of turning trash to treasure," said County Legislature Chair Martha Robertson (D-Dryden), a member of the Regional Economic Development Council. "This grant will turn a waste product for businesses into an asset and allow residents to reduce what they spend on garbage tags, while helping the environment at the same time."

The Tompkins County Solid Waste Division is partnering with Trumansburg-based Cayuga Compost, which will purchase equipment to increase its capacity to recycle the additional material.

"This is an exciting opportunity,' said Mary Proctor, co-owner of Cayuga Compost, a division of P & S Excavating. "We look forward to playing a significant role in further reducing the amount of waste going to landfills."

When Cayuga Compost acquired the composting operation from Cayuga Nature Center in 2005, there were seven businesses composting; today, there are over 140.

As well as increasing capacity for composting commercial food waste, the County intends to implement a pilot residential collection program for about 300 homes, while at the same time raising the visibility of food scraps recycling at the Drop-Off Area of the Recycling and Solid Waste Center.

Solid Waste Division Manager Barbara Eckstrom said organic waste diversion will be 'just as important, if not more so, than when Tompkins County launched its recycling program in the early 1990's. It's crucial if the County is to accomplish the goal of diverting at least 75% of waste from landfills by 2016."

Carol Chock, chair of the County Legislature's Facilities and Infrastructure Committee, is pleased the Empire State Development Corporation recognizes the value in what the County is trying to achieve. She praised Eckstrom for 'transforming a 25 year vision for the county's recycling program into reality."

The next step is for the County to sign a contract with Empire State Development Corporation and Cayuga Compost, which Eckstrom expects to be completed in Spring of 2013.