West Chester Borough Adds Composting Program

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By Denise Polk, West Chester University Professor

West Chester, Pa. – West Chester borough is participating in a new food composting pilot program to show the benefits of diverting food scraps from landfills. The borough’s Public Works Department will collect food scraps from Landmark Americana, Roots Café and Three Little Pigs and deliver them to a local composting facility from June through November. The scraps will be converted to compost and used as a soil supplement. The program is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Composting offers both environmental and economic benefits. Currently, food scraps and yard waste make up 20-30% of the waste stream in the United States. About 35 million tons of food waste reaches landfills and incinerators each year in the United States. By decreasing the amount of food wasted, businesses pay less to dispose of their trash. Converting those valuable food scraps into compost also keeps these materials out of landfills, where they release in the atmosphere methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide emissions.

The nutrient-rich compost can be purchased by farmers and landscapers, reducing their reliance on chemical fertilizers and reducing harmful agricultural run-off. Compost has the ability to help regenerate poor soils and can reduce the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides. Farmers who use this compost can become the same farmers who sell to restaurants locally, thus completing the eco-efficient circle of resource recovery—what comes out of restaurants as waste returns as food.

West Chester BLUER (Borough Leaders United for Emissions Reductions) committee member and West Chester University professor Denise Polk, received an EPA grant to launch the composting pilot. BLUER is a volunteer ad-hoc committee formed by the West Chester Borough Council whose mission is to help West Chester reduce greenhouse gas pollution 10% below the 2005 level by the year 2015.

To learn more contact Denise Polk at dpolk@wcupa.edu. 

Meghan Kelly

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