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EcoPel Helps Launch Food Scrap Recycling in Pelham

The Environmental Coalition of the Pelhams (EcoPel) is proud to announce a major grant to the Village of Pelham (VoP) to help start a much-needed community food scrap recycling program.

The grant of $3,900 was approved by EcoPel’s Board of Directors on Oct. 7, 2020 and will be allocated from funds raised by EcoPel thanks to the generous support of the Pelham community. The money will go towards establishing a food scrap recycling drop-off site, including the purchase of large collection toters, a one-year’s supply of compostable liners, signage, and publicity outreach.

The VoP will obtain and distribute at cost household starter kits consisting of a countertop pail to collect food scraps, a roll of compostable liners, and a larger storage/transport bin. The goal is to have the participation of 20% of households in the first 12 months, based on the experience of other municipalities.

“If we’re really going to do our part to address climate change, we have to separate food waste from our garbage stream,” said VoP Mayor Chance Mullen. “This is a key priority championed by the Sustainability Advisory Board (SAB), and I am so grateful to EcoPel for committing these resources. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to make this possible.”

The Waste Subcommittee of the SAB and the VoP’s Climate Smart Community Task Force (CSCTF) have been working to bring food scrap recycling to Pelham for the past year. They received guidance from Michelle Sterling and Ron Schulhof, who launched food scrap recycling in Scarsdale in 2017 and have been instrumental in helping to set up more than 20 programs throughout Westchester since then.

The SAB and CSCTF reached out to EcoPel for funds after VoP Mayor Mullen and the Board of Trustees approved the program in September but were unable to move forward due to budgetary constraints.

The VoP Public Works Department will maintain the food scraps drop-off site near the DPW yard behind the Village Hall on Sparks Avenue. The VoP will also contract with the county through the newly created Westchester Food Scrap Transportation and Disposal Program to insure proper pick-up and transfer of the food waste to a composting facility. The idea is to start community food scrap recycling early this winter.

Food scrap recycling will be available initially to VoP residents only. In the meantime, EcoPel, members of the CSCTF, and community supporters hope successful implementation of the program will lead it to grow and spread in our town, either in partnership with the VoP or independently.

The benefits of community food scrap recycling are abundantly clear. Food scraps are one of the largest components of trash sent to landfills and incinerators. However, they are not trash. They are a natural resource that can be turned into nutrient-rich compost to mix with the soil, promoting plant growth, preventing erosion, and reducing water, fertilizer, and pesticide use.

Unlike backyard composters which primarily handle fruit and vegetable waste, coffee grinds, and eggshells, community food scrap recycling also accepts such items as meat and poultry bones, seafood shells, leftover or spoiled food, paper towels, wooden chopsticks, cut flowers, and much more.

To learn more about food scrap recycling or the new VoP program, feel free to contact:

Anna Riehl, EcoPel board member and CSCTF member, annariehl@mac.com

Debbie Winstead, CSCTF member, dlwinstead5@gmail.com

Gabrielle Sasson, co-chair of the SAB and CSCTF, sasson.gabrielle@gmail.com

Hanan Eldahry, Village of Pelham Trustee,hanankamal.eldahry@pelhamgov.com

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ABOUT ECOPEL

The Environmental Coalition of the Pelhams (EcoPel), established in 2013, is a grassroots, not-for-profit (501c3) membership organization that aims to educate the community about sustainable green practices that protect our environment, as well as provide resources and mobilize the community to aid environmental initiatives and policies on a local and global level.

Among the events EcoPel has organized or supported are the Solarize Pelham initiative, free screenings of environmental movies at The Picture House, Pelham town-wide cleanups, the Manor Club Sustainability Series, the Vegan Cookoff, and Summer Solstice Yoga.

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