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Ontario County sets sights on food waste

Ontario County’s Department of Sustainability and Solid Waste Management is turning its attention to food waste from local restaurants. The department’s director, Carla Jordan, announced the initiative at Monday’s Board of Supervisors’ Planning & Environmental Quality Committee meeting. Jordan said that after getting local restaurants to pledge not to use plastic straws, the focus would now shift to diverting organic waste from the county landfill.

Jordan met with restaurant owners and plans to meet with Chambers of Commerce to seek support for pledges to divert organic waste. The department already has a campaign to encourage restaurants not to use plastic straws, with window stickers for those who pledge not to use the straws. Food service workers will have pins encouraging alternatives to plastic straws, and there will be printed information on tables for participating restaurants.

The next step is organic separation by restaurants, with the material moved to digesters and composting programs instead of being deposited in the local landfill. Jordan plans to start a trial program with some digester operators and highlight the benefits of composting and organic diversion programs. She noted that communities such as Geneva, Canandaigua, Gorham, and Victor already have organic diversion programs in place.

The department has been working with schools on composting and education programs, and there is sufficient disposal capacity to do more. The aim is to provide information on the issue and help the community to understand the benefits of reducing food waste.