The Wellesley Recycling and Disposal Facility (RDF) and 300 lucky Wellesley households last month started piloting a new food-waste disposal program in an effort to gauge interest in and feasibility of opening such a thing up to all residents. The program went live on October 10 and runs until January 10. A few weeks before the pilot ends, the Board of Public Works will decide whether to continue the program that the Department of Public Works, the Natural Resources Commission, and the Sustainable Energy Committee — which make up the 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) Working Group — helped make a reality.
We’re one of the 300 families who have been busily scraping our fruits and vegetables; tea bags and coffee grounds; cooked and raw meats; eggs, dairy, baked goods; paper towels and napkins into our RDF-supplied kitchen-countertop bins. I’ve been waiting for years for this program to come around, so you could say I was a True Believer before I even got my starter kit, paid for by Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection grants, which included a counter top bucket, compostable bag liners, and a container for transporting my food waste to the RDF. Even without all of these presents they pretty much had me at “waste management.”
I stopped by the RDF office to check in with Superintendent Jeff Azano-Brown to see how the program is going.
Who are the players?
According to Superintendent Azano-Brown, there are three major outside players in this program, all in Massachusetts — Waste Management‘s CORe (Centralized Organic Recycling) facility in Charlestown; the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District; and Save That Stuff, the company that comes to the Wellesley RDF and does the hauling.
For a fee of about $150 – $165 per ton, Save That Stuff collects the food waste that the pilot program participants put in rodent-secure barrels. If there is a fee, it doesn’t sound like we’re saving money, and Azano-Brown confirms this. “Hopefully it eventually will,” he says. “Not now, however. We pay for the service of the barrels coming to be emptied. We pay $15/barrel every time they come. As a basis for comparison, our cost for trash removal is $77.50/ton. As an additional comparison, we pay substantially more for electronics than if we just tossed them. Televisions cost $520/ton for removal, but we pay it of course because it is a Waste Ban item in Massachusetts, and it is the environmentally correct thing to do.”
What happens to our old, gross food?
After Save That Stuff collects our potato peels and moldy brie cheese, it goes to the Waste Management facility in Charlestown. There, they make it into an engineered bio-slurry. Apparently, this slurry recipe is ever-changing as the technology for the most [Read more…]