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Butter to compost could be example of future recycling laws

Vendors and displays are packed up, and the New York State Fair in Syracuse is over for another year. But one of the iconic sights of the fair will live on, giving a glimpse of what could be the next big recycling trend in New York state.

Thousands of fairgoers sidled up to a glass enclosure to look at this year's butter sculpture. But once the fair was over SUNY ESF students took that chilled butter, once in the shape of children and the Statue of Liberty, and chipped into big buckets. Those buckets have ended up at the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Compost site in Jamesville.

There, the butter sculpture joins food waste from around central New York to become compost, according to OCRRA Recycling Operations Manager Greg Gelewski.

"We'll take a bucket of that food, put it in the mixer, and then three buckets of yard waste and put it in the mixer. We'll mix it for five to ten minute, and then put it in a pile.

And after being aged for six to nine months, it'll be ready for gardens and landscapes across central New York. Gelewski says recycling food scraps is one of the big trends in the recycling world, and he says laws requiring it could come to New York state before you know it.

"Connecticutt, Massachusetts and Vermont have now enacted food waste bans from the trash. So when other communities around us do that, it's only a matter of time before it happens in New York state," he said.

But Gelewski says it shouldn't be that hard a transition when that happens because Onondaga County is already a leader statewide in the food waste to compost movement.

"For us in Onondaga County, it'll be revisiting what we did 20 years ago, with source separation of glass, metal, plastic, paper and cardboard.  So now for industries doing food waste, it's one more container," said Gelewski.
Construction is underway  on a new concrete building that'll focus on food waste at the Amboy Compost Site in Camillus.

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.