Restaurant Composting Pilot Program to Begin in Cherry Hill

Remember the movie Back to the Future where food waste fueled the DeLorean car that zoomed Michael J. Fox’s character through time?

That “future” scenario may be closer to reality in Cherry Hill.

The Sustainable Cherry Hill Compost/Zero Waste task force has been investigating possibilities on reducing waste in the township.  According to the EPA, food accounts for 31 million tons of all of the municipal food waste, yet only 3% of this is recycled.  Approximately 75% of all restaurants waste can be recycled in some capacity; including bottles, paper, plastics, oil and food waste.

The initial task force plan will focus on food waste from commercial establishments, such as restaurants and delis.  The task force analyzed options for recovering and recycling food waste, identified food waste generators, investigated types of processing, determined environmental benefits and consequences, and visited a variety of waste processing sites.  The project team, headed up by SCH board member, Melisa Skyrm, also determined any unintentional impact from diverting waste such as impact on farmers and food banks.

IMG_2684Our task force pilot program begins November 23, 2009 at Mirabella Cafe located at 210 Barclay Shopping Center, Route 70, Cherry Hill, NJ.  Owner and Chef Joe Palombo is also executive director of South Jersey Green Dining and serves on the board of SCH.  His commitment to sustainability, the development of the pilot program and his desire to share best practices with other establishments made this an ideal location to test and begin the project.  All food waste from the Mirabella Café kitchen prep area as well as any post-consumer waste that would normally be discarded will go into separate bins to be collected for recycling as compost or fertilizer.  During the first steps of the pilot program, the task force will collect data and determine best practices and overall feasibility so the program can be expanded to include other interested communities and restaurants.

Premier Recycling will be the company handling and diverting the food waste.  The company is part of Central Jersey Waste located in Trenton, NJ and owned by Frank Fiumefreddo, Jr.  The company has been a leader in food diversion.  The company’s environmental initiatives include purchasing a fleet of natural gas trucks that burn cleaner and more efficiently than diesel fuel.  Premier will pick up food waste weekly and take it to the final sites for processing.  The food waste will go to a variety of food waste recycling streams.  This includes nearby farms for traditional composting in windrows, companies that create natural fertilizer, and a high-tech compost company.  The company that creates natural fertilizer is Converted Organics in Woodbridge, New Jersey; the compost company is Peninsula Compost in Delaware.  The plan for the future is that food waste will be processed even closer to our area and could potentially be utilized to make fuel for the collection trucks.

We will keep you posted with new developments on Sustainable Cherry Hill’s website. Check out the task force’s field trip to Peninsula Compost Company


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