The pizza crust or potato peel leftover from your meal at places like the OnCenter or Destiny USA restaurants ends up at a facility in Camillus that turns it into garden compost. The Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency unveiled its Amboy food scrap composting facility on Thursday, which is the largest in the state. Spokesperson Kristin Lawton says haulers deliver the scraps, which enter a very specialized recycling process:
The Amboy facility has the capacity to recycle over 9,600 tons of institutional and commercial food scraps each year, instead of throwing that material out as trash. This should yield roughly 36,000 cubic yards of nutrient-rich compost.
Additionally, OCRRA says composting food waste instead of putting that same material in the trash could save as much as $44 per ton of waste. To put that into perspective, Syracuse University diverted roughly 400 tons of food waste in 2012, saving over $15,000 in disposal fees.
SU was one of the early adopters of OCRRA's program, but other participants include Empire Brewing Company, Marcellus School District, Paul deLima Coffee, Ramada Inn, Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center, the Centers at St. Camillus, Upstate University Hospital, and numerous restaurants at Destiny USA.
Area businesses are just the start of that increased community concern for sustainability and recycling. Amboy Site Operator Tom Ferguson predicts growth as word spreads about the facility and its methods:
Ferguson is hopeful that the Amboy Facility can one day serve as an official training ground - offering accreditation programs for other certified compost site operators - for other areas looking to expand their composting capabilities. Plus, he says, “This is one fantastic product. If you’ve ever used it, it’s phenomenal… Try this once on your garden, you’re hooked, you’re always coming back for it!”
The high-quality mulch made from the food scraps and yard waste is sold in bulk at the compost site, and is also available in bags at a handful of local garden stores.