After successful pilot program, Riverhead town to seek grant for food recycling

Riverhead Town is seeking a Municipal Food Scraps Recycling grant of up to $30,000 from New York State to increase food waste recycling. 

The board discussed the issue at its work session last Thursday and voted to send the grant application Wednesday. 

“Two landfills on Long Island are closing in 24 months, so everything we create is going to have to be either burned or trucked or railed off the island,” said Mark Haubner of Aquebogue, co-head of the town’s environmental advisory 

He said food waste constitutes about 25% to 30% of the waste stream and that Riverhead is recycling only about 15% of its waste. 

Mr. Haubner said that if the town can mix food scraps with leaves “it can create something that’s sellable.”

The committee recently picked up 2,000 tons of food waste from 10 households and three restaurants over 90 days. 

They are working on the pilot program with the Greater Calverton Civic Association, Roanoke Lavender Farm, Cornell’s Horticultural Research Center and several Calverton restaurants and residents on reducing greenhouse gases and possibly creating a mulch product that can be sold.

Dawn Thomas, who now heads the town’s Community Development Agency, said the pilot program is all volunteer. 

“It could be groundbreaking,” she said.  

The grant is a 75-25 match, meaning the town will have to contribute 25% of the total amount. 

“We need to capture food scraps and turn them into something valuable, because they are valuable,” Mr. Haubner said.