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Ridgefield Residents Can Give Food Scraps A Second Life

Jeff Demers (left) is the owner New England Compost in Danbury, which composts food scraps from Ridgefield.
Jeff Demers (left) is the owner New England Compost in Danbury, which composts food scraps from Ridgefield. Photo Credit: Contributed

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. — Some of the heaviest and most expensive materials to bury in a landfill or burn in an incinerator come from your kitchen or garden, according to a local expert.

Plants and animal products, which are known to those in the recycling business as “organic materials”, are the most common items found in the trash.

“Organic material is the largest source of material in our waste stream,” according to Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority Director Jen Iannucci, who leads a regional waste management authority comprised of Ridgefield and ten other municipalities in western Connecticut .

Ridgefield residents pay an annual permit to use the transfer station. In addition, each time a permit holder brings food scraps to the facility, he or she pays $3 to empty the first container and $1.50 for the second. The fee covers the transportation of the waste to the compost facility as well as the tip fee, which is the amount the compost facility charges for each load.

The station is now accepting drop-offs of food scraps ranging from grains to coffee grounds, which is turned into compost. Meat, poultry, bones, fish and shellfish are also accepted, among a wide variety of items. (A full list of the items residents can compost is available here .)

When participants sign up for the program, which is included in the cost of an annual transfer station permit, they receive a kitchen counter collection bin and bags. They also receive a seven gallon container with handle and lid.

After New England Compost in Danbury processes the compost, they can have the opportunity to bring home the finished compost each spring just in time for gardening season.

Composting has both economic and environmental benefits for the region. It’s cheaper to compost a ton of organic material rather than putting it in a landfill or incinerating it. Organic material is also wet, so doesn’t efficiently burn in a waste-to-energy facility.

Composting also is environmentally friendly. If organic material is sent to a landfill, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas. In fact, organic materials are the largest source of methane in landfills. But the harmful gas, which traps heat in the atmosphere, is not released through the composting process.

“We don’t create methane in composting,” Iannucci said. “We’re reducing our greenhouse gases by composting.”

The finished material is comparable to common household fertilizer products — such as Scott’s — found in stores, according to Iannucci.

Iannucci said more towns in the region may take up composting. Ridgefield joins nearby towns, including Newtown, that offer town residents the opportunity to compost their food scraps.

Iannucci said said reception to the program has been positive in existing towns and said she anticipates increased interest in composting. “Residents really do want to do the right thing,” she said.

For more information on the program, click here for a flyer.

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