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Food Scrapping Close to Home

with Reta Meisner


A few months ago I toured the EcoRich Aerobic Food Scrap Digester with Wendy Madsen, Director of Solid Waste for Columbia County.  The digester is located at the Greenport Transfer Station and repurposes food scraps into nutrient dense soil amendments. 


Check out this video on YouTube to get a quick sense of how the digester works.



The EcoRich is designed to only accept 35 gallon waste containers, which are loaded into the top of the machine, much like trash collecting trucks. All containers must get weighed, as the run cycle can only begin after 1000 pounds of scrap has been loaded.


The processing cycle takes a minimum of 24 hours and maximum of 36 hours.  Once capacity is reached within the machine, the soil amendment is removed and cured for an additional 21 days.  The result is a reduction of food by 85-90% of its original volume.  


1000 pounds of food scrap produces 10 pounds of nitrogen rich soil amendment.  This product is free to the public to be mixed with soil using a 1:4 ratio.  One part amendment to four parts soil.  The amendment can be found to the far left side of the lower level building closest to Newman Rd.  Look for the green sign with the letter G on it.   


The transfer station currently receives scraps from the convenience stations in Chatham, Kinderhook, Germantown, Livingston, Gallatin, Copake and Hillsdale.  Each convenience station, as well as the Greenport Transfer Station, has designated 35 gallon containers on site.  These are for residents to use.  Greenport coordinates with the convenience stations and swaps new containers for full ones a few times each week.  Greenport containers are located to the left of section G and labeled Food Scraps.

 

This is a great first step, but it has its limitations.  The size of the EcoRich machine, man power, hours of operation, and budget restraints, all contribute to the machine averaging about 2 batches per week.  Then there’s the learning curve for such a young project. 


It should be noted that this machine is not intended for large scale/commercial food scrap collection, but for residential collection.  All things considered, we are lucky to already have a starter-program up and running, and free for residents to use.

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