EnvironmentThe Examiner

No. Castle Residents Encouraged to Recycle Food Scraps as Program Begins

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Councilman Jose Berra displays the large and small food scrap recycling containers at the last North Castle Town Board meeting. The program officially launched in town on Feb. 12.

The Town of North Castle recently launched its food scrap recycling program where residents can separate food that would have previously gone into the trash, saving the town money and helping the environment.

On Feb. 12, the program started with a drop-off location that began accepting a variety of items in compostable bags at Lombardi Park on Cox Avenue in Armonk. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk for drop-off.

A kick-off event was held on Feb. 10 at Armonk Square to help inform residents of the start of the program and the details.

Councilman Jose Berra, the Town Board’s liaison to the North Castle Sustainability Committee, said the town expects to eventually save money on its trash hauling expenses once enough residents get into the routine of separating their food scraps from garbage. The town is charged for its trash hauling on a per-ton basis, so if there is less trash, it will cost the town less.

Berra said while the goal is to have as much food material placed in the receptacles at Lombardi Park as possible, until residents become accustomed to what items are accepted at the facility, it would be better to be cautious.

“Eighty percent (compliance) is better than 100 percent,” Berra said. “People who try for 100 percent, unless they’re really very careful, end up putting stuff in there that often shouldn’t be there and then that contaminates things.”

Sustainability Committee Co-chair Neil Singer said food scrap recycling will help the environment because nearly all garbage in Westchester is burned, so it would help reduce the harmful effects of what’s spewed into the air. Then the compost can be used for fertilizer in gardens and is a much-improved cycle, he said.

Food that can be recycled include meat, seafood, fruits and vegetables, grains and tea grounds. Additionally, egg shells and bones can also be put in the receptacles. The food scraps are then trucked to an upstate commercial composting facility.

Singer said some paper products and used pizza boxes that typically have to be thrown out and burned or put in landfills, can also be included with the food scraps.

“Not only can you compost food scraps but if you have a napkin or paper towel and its not covered with chemicals, it can go in there,” Singer said.

The town is offering starter kits for $25 that include a countertop food scrap bin and a larger container that can be used to bring the collected items to the park. The kit also includes compostable liner bags. Residents can buy the starter kits at the town clerk’s office at Town Hall during regular business hours.

If a resident only wants one of the two containers, the larger one is being sold for $15 each while the smaller one costs $12.

Residents can also use their own containers and bags, but the bags must be 100 percent compostable.

While some residents already compost in their backyard, meat, bones and citrus items if buried outside run the risk of attracting pests and other forms of wildlife, according to Sustainability Committee materials.

“Hopefully, people will really contribute to the effort,” Berra said. “It’s a really good thing to do.”

Singer said the cost reduction to the town would probably amount to a single-digit percentage to start as residents gradually become familiar with what to do. The Village of Scarsdale, which has been one of the leaders in food scrap recycling when it started its program nearly a decade ago, estimated that it saves about 30 percent on its garbage hauling expenses, he said.

The town has negotiated a contract with its hauler, Suburban Carting, where it will see the cost savings kick in after a year, Singer said. While no community sees full compliance, getting started and reinforcing the benefits of the program will be critical.

“I think a big part of it is education,” Singer said. “Our committee will do more events and get the word out. It’s a big education, a big education lift.”

Eventually, a second drop-off location could be added in North White Plains.

For more information about the program, North Castle residents can visit the food scrap recycling program page on the town’s website at https://www.northcastleny.com/sustainability-committee/pages/food-scrap-recycling.

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