Middletown, Connecticut, partners with composting firm on food waste recycling initiative

Middletown, Connecticut, partners with composting firm on food waste recycling initiative

The Feed the Earth campaign aims to alleviate Connecticut’s ongoing waste crisis.

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The city of Middletown, Connecticut, has contracted with Blue Earth Compost on a project to distribute receptacles to businesses and other entities to pick up food waste for free in effort to divert it from the waste stream, reports The Middletown Press.

The initiative, which will be rolled out in phases, has been dubbed The Feed the Earth campaign.

“With the imminent closing of the [Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority] trash facility in Hartford, the state is heading toward a trash crisis,” said Kim O’Rourke, the city’s recycling coordinator, during a recent Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce meeting. “We will not have enough in-state capacity to handle the amount of trash generated.”

The city does not use the Hartford facility, but the shutdown is expected to affect costs “across the board for incinerators in the state,” said Samuel King, owner of Hartford-based Blue Earth Compost.  

Commercial entities in the downtown corridor, as well as hospitals and schools, will be included in the program. In all, 80 new locations will be added. King estimated the company will be picking up between 25 tons and 30 tons per week.

The city and Blue Earth will be reaching out to restaurants in the coming weeks, with collection projected to begin in May.

“We’ve been doing this almost 71/2 years now, exclusively on the food scrap issue,” he said. His firm has been collecting such waste from Wesleyan University for about five years. “For the most part, it’s restaurants, but there are also food manufacturers, breweries — things like that.”

The discarded food will be shipped to Quantum Biopower of Southington, where it can be composted or turned into clean energy.

O’Rourke has worked with the state Department of Public Health over the past year to help the city break out food waste from its trash stream, according to King.

“[Food waste diversion] is better for our environment, it’s better for our health, and it ultimately sends less waste to landfills or incinerators,” O’Rourke said. Currently, food waste makes up one-quarter of trash generated in Middletown.