Food Scrap Recycling


A residential composting program is a suggested initiative in the Rye Sustainability Plan for cost savings and waste reduction reasons.

Food waste is not trash: It’s a potentially valuable resource that can be turned into compost. We lose this resource when we send it to the incinerator. The act of composting can also help change habits. As residents begin to separate their food waste from the rest of their garbage, they become more aware of how much food they toss, prompting them to buy less. Ultimately, this can lead to less garbage collected and potentially less waste management expenses.  

In addition to these reasons, RSC members have focused their interest on composting in response to increased community interest and requests for a municipal composting program. To date, a number of residents, businesses and many of our local schools (all Rye elementary, Rye middle and Rye Country Day schools) have instituted various programs.

There are challenges, however, to individual residential composting setups. Backyard composting is impractical and a perceived nuisance to neighbors. Most importantly, FSR programs sponsored by municipalities have the ability to accept far more food waste (meat, fish, bones) than a backyard composting setup.

For these reasons, a number of local municipalities recently instituted their own residential food scrap programs, with Scarsdale setting up the first voluntary drop off program in 2017. This program was so successful that the town has now added curbside pickup. To date there are ten residential Westchester composting programs and the recent approval by Cortlandt’s Planning Board of a new composting facility indicates that more will follow.

Rye Sustainability Develops a Rye FSR Program

For over a year, Rye Sustainability Committee studied the feasibility of a Rye Food Scrap Recycling program. RSC members and City of Rye staff consulted with members of the Scarsdale Food Scrap Recycling group and representatives of other municipalities that have adopted composting programs. They also met with public works’ department heads, toured composting drop off sites and attended FSR conferences.

In addition to meetings with other municipalities, RSC members met with Rye City staff to determine costs and feasibility of a Rye program. The suggestion of a curbside program was raised by staff, which prompted RSC members to review and interview representatives from municipalities nationwide that offer curbside composting.

Working with Rye City staff, the details for a potential Rye curbside pilot program were then sketched out.

Council Approval & Resolution Implementing FSR Program

Rye City Council’s approval was needed to implement the FSR pilot. RSC members, Scarsdale FSR Group members and numerous stakeholders and residents participated in a number of workshops and Council meetings. The Rye City Council ultimately voted unanimously on November 28, 2018 to implement a pilot program in 2019.

Presentations and the final City Council resolution are listed below:

FSR Resolution

Resolved, that the City Manager and Head of the Department of Public Works shall organize and execute a six-month test pilot food scrap recycling program to be supported by a $5,000 NYSERDA grant and consisting of the following:

(a)   Once-a-week food scrap curbside pickup from not more than 150 subscribers who have purchased and use appropriate kits and who have paid a subscription fee of $26/household;

(b)  A food scrap recycling drop-off location at the Disbrow recycling center available during hours set by the Head of the Department of Public Works and open to residents who have signed up and purchased and use an appropriate kit;

(c)   Data collection by the Head of the Department of Public works, to include among other things, tonnage recycled, participation rates and cost, and a written report at the end of the six-month program summarizing the quantitative data collected and reporting non-quantitative experiential information - all that would be relevant  to and as may be requested by, the  City Council to assist in consideration of any further food scrap recycling program;

(d)  Publication on the City website of the availability of the drop-off location during the pendency of the six-month program; and

(e)   The City Manager and Head of the Department of Public Works may seek advice on the design and running of the program from members of the Rye Sustainability Committee, other municipalities engaged in similar efforts and such other sources as may be appropriate.