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Onondaga County will now compost residents' food scraps

Ellen Abbott

Onondaga County residents can now compost food scraps through the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency, or OCRRA. The first residential food waste was dropped off at the Jamesville compost site earlier this week.

Fifteen percent of all residential trash collected in Onondaga County is made up of food scraps, according to OCRRA.  The agency is hoping to reduce that number with a new residential food scrap drop-off program. 

Recycling operations manager Greg Gelewski says the first step is for residents to collect their food waste -- everything from fruits and vegetables, meat and fish to paper napkins, paper plates and tea bags. This list of things that are accepted is long.

“Chopsticks, Chinese food to-go containers. You take the little metal wire ring off, we can take the to-go container also,” said Gelewski.

"You’re going to have two ideal containers. One for transport, which could be a five gallon pail; and then a kitchen style caddy, which you can purchase online, or people use the plastic coffee tubs," said Gelewski.

Once residents have collected the waste, it can be dropped off at one of OCRRA’s two compost sites. 

Residents need a $35 pass to take part in the program. That also allows them to drop off unlimited yard waste and food scraps, and then take home six cubic yards of mulch or compost per trip.

Up to now, only commercial food scraps have been accepted at the compost sites.

And Gelewski says the county compost can take things people can’t really use in a backyard compost pile – like oils and grease.

So whether people jump in on this program Gelewski says depends on the answer to this question:

“How long do you want to continue to generate and dispose of waste as trash, and not close the loop of recycling and returning valuable organic material back to the soil?”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.