Community Composting in Rye?

  Supporters attend and speak out in support of community composting at 10/17/18 City Council meeting.

Supporters attend and speak out in support of community composting at 10/17/18 City Council meeting.

Should there be community composting in Rye? City Council heard the answer from numerous residents at last week’s City Council meeting. With letters of support to council members, or in person, residents asked for the opportunity to discuss and implement a Rye community composting program.

What is community composting? And why does Rye need a composting (or food scrap recycling) program? Read on to learn more.

Promote community composting through education and awareness programs. Emphasize the benefits of composting as a method for decreasing waste while reducing waste collection costs.
— Rye Sustainability Plan: Waste Reduction & Recycling, Section 2.6

Background

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.

  Town of Mamaroneck’s Food Scrap site

Town of Mamaroneck’s Food Scrap site

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 Explores a Potential Rye FSR Program:

  A Rye resident speaks at City Council in support of community composting.

A Rye resident speaks at City Council in support of community composting.

For over a year, the Rye Sustainability Committee, under the leadership of RSC members Patti Capparelli and Linda Mackay, has been studying the feasibility of a Rye food scrap recycling program. During this time they’ve met with members of the Scarsdale Food Scrap Recycling group and representatives of other municipalities that have adopted composting programs. They have also met with public works’ department heads, toured composting drop off sites and attended conferences on food scrap recycling. They’ve learned a lot about composting!

In addition to meetings with other municipalities, RSC members have 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. RSC has canvassed residents for interest in participating in a pilot capped at 150 households. The response has been enthusiastic and we are currently oversubscribed by 60%.

Details of Proposed Rye FSR Pilot (as of 10/22/18)

  • Source of Funds: $5,000 NYSERDA CEC Grant for community composting and pilot participants’ subscription fee ($26/household).

  • Estimated Start Date: February 1, 2019

  • Number of Households:  A maximum of 150 households (no apartment complexes) will receive curbside FSR collection. Unlimited households, including apartments, can participate through the drop off location at Disbrow Department of Public Works.

  • Duration: 6 months

  • Subscription Fee/home: $26/household

  • Frequency: Once per week curbside collection by DPW.  The curbside collection will be on a day determined by DPW. Drop off participants may drop off during DPW open hours.

  • Drop off Location: at DPW will be open to all residents who sign up and purchase mandatory $20 or $25 starter composting kits.

What’s Next?

City Council would need to pass a resolution approving implementation of the pilot. Discussion and potential vote is scheduled for the November 7 City Council meeting.

See RSC and Scarsdale FSR Group’s presentation to City Council on 10/3/18 here (Item 5). See residents’ calls for discussion of community composting here (Item 5).

Interested in learning more or expressing your support for a Rye program? Contact Patti Capparelli at patticapparelli@gmail.com

  Members of Rye Girls Scouts Troop 2196 speak at City Council in support of community composting.

Members of Rye Girls Scouts Troop 2196 speak at City Council in support of community composting.