A local law that would impose mandatory composting and food diversion requirements on businesses that produce large amounts of food waste was approved unanimously by the Ulster County legislature at their Dec. 18 meeting. The Food Waste and Recovery Act is an effort to reduce waste; statewide, food waste makes up 18 percent of our solid waste stream, and produces the greenhouse gas methane when it’s put in a landfill.
If signed into law by County Executive Pat Ryan, the measure would go into effect on July 1, 2020 — a year and a half sooner than a similar law passed on the state level. To begin with, businesses or institutions that produce more than two tons of food waste per week would have to divert inedible food waste into a composting program. (Edible food would have to be diverted to either a food bank or to animal feed or other agricultural use.)
By 2021, these requirements would extend to those producing one ton of food waste per week. By 2022, those producing three-quarters of a ton of food waste would be under the requirements and finally, by 2023, the threshold would be lowered to those producing a half-ton of food waste per week.
Affected operations include supermarkets, food service businesses, hotels, correctional facilities, sports or entertainment venues, hospitals, nursing homes, schools and universities and food preparation and processing businesses.
According to Legislator Manna Jo Greene, the law’s sponsor, 25 to 30 facilities in Ulster will be impacted.
“I was pleased to learn that so much food and organic waste is already being successfully diverted by conscientious businesses throughout Ulster County. Many schools and private individuals have well-established food diversion and composting underway,” said Greene, a Rosendale Democrat. “These successful operations can serve as a model to others who want to get started.”
Greene estimates that more than 10,000 tons of food waste per year will be diverted when the law is fully implemented in 2023.
A public hearing on the act is scheduled for Jan. 9 at 5:30 p.m. in the legislature’s chambers at the County Office Building in Uptown Kingston; representatives from County Executive Pat Ryan’s office said this week that he will take opinions aired at this hearing into account when he decides whether to sign the measure into law.
Impacted businesses or individuals interested in composting can contact the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency’s “Partner in Composting Program.”
Composting guidance is also offered at the UCRRA website.
To schedule a free site visit, learn about the potential cost savings of composting, discuss the program or coordinate staff training, contact UCRRA at (845) 336-0600 or APEO@UCRRA.ORG.