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Casella seeks county approval to operate organics depackaging system

Pizza boxes with cheese and sauce stuck to the inside. Yogurt containers not rinsed out.

Those are examples of packaging that cannot be recycled because of the food contamination. However, there is a way to remove the food and organic material from packaging to be added to an anaerobic digester so it can be recycled properly and not dumped in the landfill.

Casella Waste Systems, the company that has operated the Ontario County Landfill since 2003, wants to set up an organic depackaging operation at the material recovery facility it runs on landfill property in the town of Seneca.

Casella officials are requesting authorization from the county to apply to the state Department of Environmental Conservation for a research development and demonstration permit to establish and operate a 12-month pilot project that will separate packaged food, beverages and other organic material from their packaging. The organic material would then be sent to an off-site anaerobic digester, while the newly cleaned packaging material can go to the landfill’s material recovery facility.

All other packaging material still unsuitable for digestion or recycling will be landfilled.

The county Board of Supervisors’ Planning & Environmental Quality Committee will consider Casella’s request at its meeting Monday. If approved, the motion will go to the full board for a final vote later in February.

If given the full go-ahead, county staffers would assist Casella and the Barton & Loguidice engineering firm with the application.

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