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Food Scrap Recycling Pilot Program Starts in October

Food Scrap Recycling Poster

Monticello, NY – With State permission now in hand, Sullivan County is launching a Food Scrap Recycling Pilot Program on October 2.

“This is one of this Legislature’s major accomplishments,” said Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Robert A. Doherty. “We’ve talked about this forever as legislators, and it took three years to get the proper licensing from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. But we never gave up, and I thank my colleagues and the crew of the Division of Public Works for seeing this through to launch.”

“Food scraps are one of the largest components of trash sent to landfills and incinerators,” noted Sullivan County Recycling Coordinator Kassie Thelman. “However, food scraps are NOT trash. They are a resource that can be turned into useful compost.”

The idea is to divert organics (food scraps) away from landfills – where their decomposition creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas – and instead compost them, creating a valuable product that can help grow food and mitigate the excessive use of water, fertilizer and pesticides.

It works like this:

  • Residents can contact Thelman to sign up:, 845-807-0291 or stop by the Monticello Transfer Station
    • Though not required to be used, the County is offering “starter kits” – consisting of a countertop pail and a storage/transportation bin – to the first 400 people who sign up
  • Food scraps of every kind are collected by residents
    • The pilot program is not open to businesses, but if successful, commercial operations will be considered
  • Bins are brought to any Sullivan County Transfer Station (except Western Sullivan in Cochecton), where they are emptied for free
  • The County transports the food scraps to a commercial composting facility – the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency – where they are turned into usable compost, which is then sold
  • Bins are kept by users, to be cleaned and reused as often as necessary

“We will accept any kind of food people can bring us: not just fruits and vegetables but meat and bones, fish and shells, bread and pasta, rice and grains, nuts and seeds, coffee grounds and paper filters, even tea bags (without the staples),” affirmed Thelman.

“We cannot take bags, plates, cups, napkins, containers or any kind of packaging through this program, even if they’re marked as ‘compostable,’” she added. “Pet waste, spent flowers and soiled paper are also not acceptable, though we do take those through our other programs at our transfer stations.”

If the pilot program is successful, the County intends to apply to the State to construct its own composting facility at the Monticello landfill site.

“This initiative once again sets us apart from much of upstate New York, demonstrating this Legislature’s and County’s commitment to clean-and-green programs and technologies,” said Doherty. “Considering how harmful methane can be to the environment, it is essential we move away from simply dumping our organics into landfills.”