In May of 2018, the Borough launched a pilot program to gauge the feasibility of adding food scrap collection to our current recycling efforts. Initially, 100 participants separated food from the rest of their household waste, using the program’s bright yellow buckets for the weekly collection. In Year 2 of the Pilot, an additional 120 households joined the program. To carry out the pilot, the borough partnered with Kitchen Harvest, a composting company owned and operated by Chris Pieretti, located on the grounds of Linvilla Orchards.
In the 2+ years the pilot has operated, nearly 80 tons of food waste have been diverted from the trash stream, creating nutrition-rich composted soil that can be worked back into the land for new food production. Sixteen yards of this finished compost was made available to borough residents free during the pilot. Participant surveys for the program have been overwhelmingly positive, and most respondents said they reduced the volume of their trash by at least 25%. The program has been a win/win for both the environment and for residents.
Budget season is now upon us and Council is considering the feasibility of expanding the food waste collection pilot into a borough-wide program in 2021 by folding food waste into our current yard waste collection program. Stay tuned!
The Composting Pilot Program is an initiative of the Environmental Advisory Council, a seven-member body appointed by Borough Council, and Transition Town Media.
Why is composting important? Not only does it reduce household waste, it also…
- It converts food waste—otherwise discarded as trash—into a valuable resource. When we compost food waste, we create nutrient-rich fertilizer used by local farmers and gardeners. Instead of sending food waste to be burned in the solid waste incinerator, composting recycles nutrients and fiber back into the soil where it can support the growth of fresh new food for our tables.
- It reduces greenhouse gases. Composting keeps food scraps out of the incinerator, decreasing pollution and the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O), a greenhouse gas 310 times more powerful in atmospheric warming than carbon dioxide.
- Reduces energy consumption. The composting process requires fewer workhours than incineration and no fuel deliveries, further lowering greenhouse gases.
Media Borough currently has a high rate of recycling participation (estimated at around 70%) because our community recognizes that natural resources are limited and that we need to “reduce, reuse and recycle” to ensure that our world can adequately sustain future generations. Our current recycling and yard waste programs divert over 30% of residential solid waste from the incinerator and land fill. Adding a food scrap collection program could reduce residential waste by another 15%.
The Food Compost Pilot Program got a boost from a $7,500 Technical Assistance Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which enabled us to work with SCS Engineering on a Food Scrap Collection feasibility study. The study focused on small communities in Pennsylvania and other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic areas who have successfully implemented such programs, and it provided recommendations based on their experiences to Media Borough’s Pilot Program. To view the feasibility study report, use this link.