Composting in Rochester
Last spring I wrote about my family’s experience composting with Impact Earth, a Brighton-based company that acquired its competitor Community Composting in January 2021. At the time of the acquisition, Impact Earth was Monroe County’s only residential food waste composting service, serving approximately 3,000 residential consumers via curbside pickup and drop-off locations.
Less than 2% of towns and cities in the U.S. offer curbside food scraps pickup, which makes Monroe County a bit ahead in the composting game. However, nearby Buffalo and Onondaga County had launched a municipally funded program years ago. The City of Rochester is working on its own composting program, called ROC City Compost.
Roc City Compost was born out of the City’s Climate Action Plan and started as a pilot program in 2021 with 1,000 participants. Throughout the pilot they collected 116 tons of food scraps with two drop off locations at Genesee Valley Park and Cobbs Hill Park. Anne Spaulding, Rochester’s Manager of Environmental Quality, stated that the program has reduced about 70 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. That may not seem like much, but as the program grows, it will only get better.
There is now a third drop-off location at Maplewood Park and the website advertises that the program is currently open for new participants for a limited time. They state that they’re considering the feasibility of curbside pick-up in the future. Impact Earth is actually connected to this program as well, transporting the collected food waste to Organix Green Industries, a vermicomposting facility (worm farm) out in Seneca Castle, New York. Participants are expected to receive a portion of the compost created by their food waste.
In suburban news, the Town of Pittsford is launching its own food scraps collection pilot program in partnership with Monroe County and Livingston County-based company, Natural Upcycling for 500 Pittsford households. The food scraps will be sent to Noblehurst Farms where they will be broken down by bacteria in an anaerobic digester to create natural gas that can be used to generate electricity. Whatever electricity doesn’t get used by the farm will be sold to the grid.
Food waste reduction is incredibly important since whenever food is sent to landfills it decomposes and releases methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. These programs are a great step forward in reducing our food waste in Monroe County.
Written by Sarah Woodams ‘24(T5)
Photo by Sarah Woodams