Rhode Island has only recently begun efforts to divert the 250,000 pounds of daily residential and commercial food scrap that gets buried at the Central Landfill in Johnston. But during the past 10 years, the state has gone from one commercial composting facility, Earth Care Farm in Charlestown, to several commercial and public ventures. “There’s a much wider understanding in the community about the need to compost,” Gerritt said. “It’s starting everywhere.”
Terry Gray, deputy director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, called Gerritt one of the state’s “champions in leadership” who made composting an issue that needs attention. “It started with Greg,” Gray said. “He was a force of nature to make this conference happen.”
Gerritt won’t be abandoning his advocacy of the virtues of composting; he’s simply handing over the management of the event to Rhode Island College (RIC) and its director of sustainability, Jim Murphy. Gray hoped that other state institutions would adopt the sustainability and composting initiatives employed by RIC. Gray noted the 2016 state law that requires food manufacturers, grocery stores, and restaurants to divert food from the waste stream if they generate more than 105 tons of organic byproducts annually.
During the next two years, Gray said the state will focus on diverting food scrap and other materials from the state’s space-constrained landfill.
Michael Bradlee, manager of community composting at Frey Florist & Greenhouse, described his many endeavors to expand urban composting. In 2018, the neighborhood facility off Smith Street processed more than 100,000 pounds of food scrap.
“What I’ve seen transform is a community that now believes in composting and doesn’t see this as a peripheral activity,” Bradlee said. “And it’s pretty central to a lot of people’s understanding of how they should be interacting with the world.”