Organic “Waste” Composting: A Random Local Update

by Sheree

At RPI, there are at least two food “waste” projects. One is a prototype small methane digester. The other is a dumpster composter, which digests its load in 7 days.

Unfortunately, hardly anyone seems to want the compost, which they have been giving away free. It would be ideal if a farmer picked up the material and composted it on site. As of 2009, Sodexho at RPI was going to try to compost campus food “waste” but I do not know what came of that. More info on RPI’s Student Sustainability Task Force is at .

At SUNY Albany, food “waste” composting possibilities may include in-house vessel options and small biodigesters. Apparently, Chartwells “owns” the food “waste,” so the mechanics of getting it composted may be a bit complicated. The Radix Center composting initiative ( may work well for small scale SUNY events, but not for the large volumes that SUNYA routinely generates. SUNYA is also researching what other colleges are doing with their food waste. At SUNY Binghamton a chef hauls food waste to be composted off site ( Union College has an Earth Tub at one of their dining halls ( The University of Wisconsin at Osh Kosh will convert organic waste into energy at a nearby plant in an industrial area ( Lots more on what SUNY Albany is trying to do on sustainability and “trash” here . SUNYA is hosting a neeting with students from the Capital Region to discuss sustainability initiatives on April 2, 10 am to 4 pm at the Standish Room in the Science Library at SUNY. Contact info for the SUNY Office of Environmental Sustainability is (518) 956-8120.

Evidently there used to be organic “waste” recycling done in Rensselaer County by ECO Waste, with We Care Organics ( The Rensselaer operation was sold by ECO Waste to County Waste, I understand, but County Waste no longer runs it, and I can get no info from them today on where it was, what may be left of it, etc. Perhaps others of you out there may know? Does anyone know how to reach the people that used to sell worm castings at the Troy Farmers Market? They were called “As the Worm Turns” and were based on McChesney Avenue in Brunswick, I believe. Red wrigglers love food “waste.”

The Rensselaer County Environmental Management Council’s Anne Shaughnessy is monitoring the unfolding SWMP situation across the river in Albany. More info on the Council is at
Council/Environment%20Main%20Page.htm .

I invite people in Rensselaer County to link efforts to move high quality organic food “waste” from kitchens at large institutions such as colleges and hospitals to happy homes as useable, valuable compost. This would reduce the need for Rensselaer County municipalities to throw their lot in with Albany’s “trash” solution. It could be a boon to urban farmers, make sanitation workers happier, and get us on the road to zero waste, a laudable goal that is best achieved rather than simply yearned for. I am not fond of wringing my hands, looking at the sky, and crying, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” The optimist in me won’t let me, anyway. Want to get organic food “waste” composting going? Let’s go! Contant me, Sheree at 286-0359 (weeknights and weekends) or email





Published in March/April 2011 Newsletter