A conversation with Jamie Manzolini, Wellesley DPW, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Wellesley RDF Food Waste Recycling program started 6 years ago. About 300 households adopted the program using our free ‘starter kit’ including a blue food waste storage bucket and counter-top collector. More recently, we have given out about 250 blue food waste storage bucket and compost bags as our ‘starter kit’.
Recycling food waste makes sense from an environmental and economic standpoint. About 25%-30% of all household trash is food waste in our trash. And food waste is HEAVY! The more weight we can get out of the trash the more we save.
Wellesley pays $112 per ton for trash disposal and $75 a ton for food waste disposal. We recycled approximately 160 tons of food waste 2022 for a savings of $6,000. But we feel like we’re just scratching the surface. If the majority of Wellesley residents did food waste recycling, we could save $75,000 annually. Our trash disposal costs are predicted to increase as much as 40% in the next 2-5 years and as landfill capacity diminishes this easy to do program could help reduce our costs and reduce trash going to landfill. So where does the food waste go?
Once you have collected your food waste in a biobag, (Click HERE for the program flyer for a list of accepted waste, where to buy program supplies and frequently asked questions), you then drop your food waste off in the designated containers near the trash compactors at the Wellesley RDF. From here, your food waste goes through a de-packing process/cleaning unwanted items before it is delivered to an anaerobic digester which then converts it into electricity, heat, liquid fertilizer, bio char/animal bedding or as ingredients to produce high grade compost.
Wellesley RDF is working with the Wellesley Middle School to educate them in the process of food waste recycling. Currently the Wellesley RDF picks up their pre-consumer food waste (originates in the kitchen) for food waste recycling. The school is implementing food waste recycling for elementary students as they dispose of their lunch trash. We are monitoring how well they are doing with that and will implement both pre and post-consumer food waste recycling. Once the program is well established, they may sign on with Black Earth for pick-up. We have also supported WHS and Dana Hall School as they have adopted food waste recycling. Other sites that are doing food waste recycling- Wellesley Country Club, Babson College and Linden Square Restaurants who use Black Earth, a food waste composting company that offers food waste pick up and curbside bins to residents and businesses. Black Earth offers tiered pricing with the more adopters in a specific geographic area, leading to reduced pricing.
Wellesley RDF Food Waste Recycling program future plans include better communication with getting people to adopt this program. Getting feedback from those that use the program. Click HERE to sign up and can then pick up your blue bucket and biobags from the RDF office. We will be improving the ease of depositing food waste bags with more accessible bins. Our signage will be updated as well with more details and readability.
Continuing to work with Sustainable Wellesley for one-on-one outreach at the RDF to encourage adoption of this program and answer questions.