BETHLEHEM Home composting will soon be made easier for Bethlehem residents as an area food waste hauling company launches a pilot program in town.
In a partnership with the town’s Recycling Department, Empire Zero will begin offering curbside pickup of food waste for customers. The new program is in its first stages and is only being offered within Delmar and Slingerlands until the effort expands.
“We know people are busy,” said Empire Zero co-founder Tyler Holloway. “This is for people who may want to begin composting but just don’t have the time, space or know how to do it themselves.”
When residents sign up for the program, each homeowner will be given two large compost buckets with screw top lids to prevent pests and control odor. An Empire Zero employee will also stop by to give a short lesson about composting.
The program costs $5 per week. Each week, Empire Zone will come and pick up the food waste and then replace the two buckets with clean ones. Once a month, residents will be supplied with compost. Any unwanted compost will be kept by Empire Zero to be donated to local community gardens.
“Diverting food waste from the landfill is well aligned with our Sustainable Bethlehem program and will allow us to get closer to the town and state’s long-term ‘zero waste’ goals,” said Town Supervisor John Clarkson.
According to Clarkson, the town’s diversion rate is high for the region. At 65 percent, a lion’s share of the town’s waste stream is already being diverted from landfills, but food waste is the second largest category of material being thrown away. He said he would like to see food waste eliminated from the waste stream entirely.
Town Recycling Coordinator Dan Rain said recent reports from the federal Environmental Protection Agency found food waste makes up 18 percent of landfill waste in the United States. He said those greenhouse gas emission are 23 times more harmful than if the waste is composted.