EcoPel awards grant to Village of Pelham to start food-scrap recycling program

EcoPel awards grant to Village of Pelham to start food-scrap recycling program

The Environmental Coalition of the Pelhams (EcoPel) approved Oct. 7 a grant of $3,900 to the Village of Pelham to fund a food-scrap recycling program, allowing the village to buy large collection bins, a one-year’s supply of compostable liners, signs and publicity outreach.

This project, modeled after Scarsdale’s, will turn food scraps into compost. Food often ends up in landfills, producing methane gas which is detrimental to the environment. By composting, a useful material that provides plant nutrients is created, resulting in cleaner soil, water and air.

Board members of EcoPel said in a statement, “Uneaten foods at homes and in commercial kitchens, in addition to food waste due to the food preparation process, account for 22% of discarded municipal solid waste in the United States, according to the EPA. By eliminating food from the waste stream, you reduce landfill use, which translates to less methane gas production and less carbon dioxide due to the weight of food-waste transportation.” 

“Climate change is a threat that requires federal leadership,” Gabrielle Sasson, co-chairman of the Village of Pelham’s Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB), said. “At the same time, there are ways we can contribute to a solution on the local and personal level. The Village of Pelham is registered with N.Y. State’s Climate Smart Communities (CSC) program, which helps local governments take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate. Food-waste reduction and food-scrap recycling are recommended initiatives that local municipalities can undertake.”

The Waste Subcommittee of the SAB has been working to get the recycling project off the ground during the past year. The project was approved in September by the Village of Pelham Board of Trustees. But it hit a financial roadblock, and EcoPel was contacted for help.

“Ecopel was an obvious group to approach because of their mission of educating the Pelham community on sustainability issues and supporting environmental initiatives,” Sasson said.

Following approval from the village board, “The committee presented to the EcoPel board and then submitted an application which was approved unanimously.” said the EcoPel board in a statement.

The food scraps drop-off site will be near the Department of Public Works yard behind the Village Hall on Sparks Avenue and will be maintained by DPW. The village will work with the Westchester Food Scrap Transportation and Disposal Program to make sure the food scraps are transferred to composting facilities. Plans are to begin composting early this winter.

EcoPel and members of the village’s Climate Smart Community Task Force are hoping to expand this program to Pelham Manor if met by a successful implementation.  According to Village of Pelham Trustee Hanan Eldahry, “We would love to work with Pelham Manor on a joint program, and we’re currently in conversations about how to collaborate. Both boards are open to the idea, but the conversations are preliminary.”

While promoting the project, EcoPel members hope to increase awareness of their organization and increase financial resources through donations and fundraisers. These funds would bolster efforts made by other organizations and improve environmental awareness in Pelham.

“By giving this grant to launch a food-scrap recycling program in the Village of Pelham, Ecopel felt it could have an immediate and profound effect on the environment of our community,” said EcoPel President Lindsay Preftakes. “Not only are we helping to remove food waste from the trash stream, but we are returning a valuable natural resource to the earth to promote plant growth and reduce the excessive use of water, pesticides, and fertilizer.”