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Westchester County DEF hosts successful compost giveaway events to promote food scrap recycling

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This past spring, the Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities (DEF) demonstrated its commitment to sustainability and community engagement by hosting five successful compost giveaway events across the county. Aimed at increasing awareness about food scrap recycling and promoting CompostED, the County’s innovative compost and education site, these events distributed a remarkable 988 bags of compost to 490 residents, translating to approximately 4,940 gallons of nutrient-rich compost.

The giveaway events were strategically held at various accessible locations including Croton Point Park, Sprain Ridge Park, and DEF’s Household Material Recovery Facility (HMRF) in Valhalla. The initiative welcomed residents from all corners of Westchester County, providing them with free compost to enrich their gardens and landscapes.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer emphasized the dual benefits of the program: “While the primary goal is to donate excess food to those in need, for food that cannot be donated, residents can significantly reduce the waste stream and benefit the environment by participating in our voluntary food waste drop-off program. The compost we distribute at these events is created from expired perishable food scraps collected from local food pantries. These public giveaways are a fantastic way to illustrate the many advantages of food waste recycling.”

DEF First Deputy Commissioner Louis Vetrone highlighted the importance of food scrap recycling in waste management: “Food scraps constitute 21% of the County’s residential waste stream. Diverting these scraps for composting is a crucial element of our waste reduction strategy. These giveaway events are not only about distributing compost but also about raising awareness of the food waste recycling options available to Westchester residents.”

Composting is an eco-friendly process that transforms food scraps into a valuable resource. It enhances soil quality, prevents erosion, and improves water retention. DEF’s initiative involves collecting food scraps from voluntary drop-off sites across twenty-four municipalities in Westchester. Residents are encouraged to compost at home or check with their local municipality to see if they participate in the County’s Residential Food Scrap Transportation and Disposal Program (RFSTAD).

In 2023, the program’s efforts saw participating municipalities recycle 1,104 tons of food scraps, marking a 7% increase from the previous year. This increase contributed to Westchester County’s impressive overall recycling rate of 52%.

For residents interested in joining the composting movement, contact your local municipality to find out if there is a food scrap drop-off location near you. Through collective efforts, Westchester County continues to lead by example in promoting sustainable practices and environmental stewardship.

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