East Hampton Town will soon embark on a composting pilot program, an effort aimed at diverting, recovering, and reusing residential food scraps to create compost and return it to the soil, Councilwoman Cate Rogers said. Reducing food waste is one of the top solutions to reversing climate change. Nearly 40 percent of food is wasted in the United States, according to the hunger-relief organization Feeding America, and it does not all happen at restaurants and grocery stores: Nearly half of that total comes from households.
Food waste creates greenhouse gases, “whether it’s carbon dioxide if it’s been open to the air, or if it’s coming up as methane when it’s anaerobically treated” such as decomposing in plastic bags in a landfill, said Mark Haubner, chairman of Riverhead Town’s Environmental Advisory Committee.
“We are burning 100 percent of our municipal solid waste in the four incinerators up west and in Nassau County,” Mr. Haubner said. “A ton of food scraps is turning into a ton of carbon dioxide.” In Riverhead, he said, “we are spending $150,000 every month on tipping fees for our solid waste. If we were to pick out simply three tons per day at $100 a ton, we’d be saving the town $300 a day. Multiply that by 365, you’re talking about enough money to get a recycling coordinator, to buy a new truck that manages food scraps all by itself. That’s just at three tons a day” — half of what is possible, he said.