Town of Ossining Kicks Off Food Scrap Recycling Program

Officials and representatives from Ossining, Briarcliff, George Latimer’s Office, David Carlucci’s Office, Catherine Borgia’s office, Teatown, Green Ossining, and the Scarsdale Conservation Advisory Council cut the ribbon on the new program.

Ossining Joins 20 Other Communities across Westchester Already Composting

On February 24, the Town of Ossining officially kicked off a food scrap recycling program for residents of the town – including the Villages of Ossining and Briarcliff Manor. The program was developed with the help of Teatown Lake Reservation and Green Ossining along with guidance from Scarsdale residents Ron Schulhof and Michelle Sterling, who have helped over a dozen local communities kick-start their own food scrap recycling program.

The official food scrap recycling kits

Residents can now drop off food scraps at Cedar Lane Park (235 Cedar Lane in Ossining) seven days a week. While residents are welcome to use their own compost bins, full compost kits are available for purchase for $20 at Teatown Lake Reservation, the Cedar Lane Arts Center and the Ossining Farmer’s Market. The kits include a two-gallon counter top pail, a six-gallon home storage bin and 25 compostable bags.

“We are beyond excited that this project to help our residents reduce what goes into their refuse stream and turn their food waste back into healthy soil has finally come to fruition,” said Town of Ossining Supervisor Dana Levenberg who is spearheading the effort.

The Ossining project is funded by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Environmental Protection Fund. Teatown will lead the initiative to reach out to the community while Green Ossining, a volunteer-based committee, will provide volunteer support. “We applaud the Town of Ossining for seeking and writing the grant, and Teatown for its abundance of knowledge as a partner and an environmental resource in every way,” said Suzie Ross, Chair and co-founder of Green Ossining.

Among the communities that Schulhof and Sterling advised was the Town of Greenburgh. “The town was the second community in Westchester (after Scarsdale) to start a food scrap recycling initiative,” noted Town Supervisor Paul Feiner. “We let people drop off their food scraps at AF Veteran Park and at Town Hall. The initiative started over a year ago and has been very successful. We also received a $250,000 grant from NYS to start a curbside pickup of food scraps.”

Like the Town of Ossining, the Town of Greenburgh is currently hauling the food scraps to an organics recovery facility in Ulster County. “We are working with Michelle on a very exciting initiative—we want to open up a compost site at Taxter Park in East Irvington,” said Feiner. “We will be the first community in Westchester to actually have a compost site for food scraps within the town. Right now food scraps are transported to Ulster County – not very good for the environment. The food scrap recycling initiative is one way for our communities to support a greener more sustainable planet. And, as more people become aware of the importance of food scrap recycling we will probably save money because less garbage will be dumped in garbage cans.”

According to Louis Vetrone, Deputy Commissioner, Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities, developing local facilities for composting is a priority of the county government. “We are going to team-up with a local community to do composting at the household materials recovery facility in Valhalla so that the County has its own small compost yard and as a demonstration to all the communities in the county . . . We hope that before the end of this year, it’ll be affordable for all the communities in the county to launch a program like this.”

For more information, including a full list of accepted materials, visit ossiningcomposts.org or composting@townofossining.com.

3 Comments

  1. I believe that I read that coffee grounds are not good for the garden. Only read this recently but forgot where I saw the post. Do you have an answer for me? Thank you!

    1. Hi Gary,
      Our food scraps are delivered to a commercial compost facility where the coffee grounds (and even the coffee filters!) will ultimately turn into beneficial soil. I am not sure about adding them directly to your garden. That may be different. There are a lot of items that are compostable through our food scraps collection program that you could not compost in your backyard. I hope this helps.
      Best,
      Dana Levenberg

      1. While coffee grounds will break down in both backyard and commercial composting, backyard composters should be careful to only include them in moderation. The grounds are acidic which only certain plants can tolerate (like azaleas and blueberries), and they also contain a significant amount of caffeine which can be harmful to both plants and microbes. If you already have healthy soil (which tends to be a bit acidic and nitrogen-rich), go lean on the grounds. Coffee grounds can still be added at will to commercial composting programs (like Ossining’s) because the composting facility handles such large quantities of food scraps that the pH is neutralized and the caffeine becomes negligible.

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