Proposed Fee for Princeton Food Waste Recycling Program Will Cut Cost for Participants

Photo credit: sporkist/Creative Commons
Photo credit: sporkist/Creative Commons

Princeton residents who participate in the municipality’s food waste recycling program will likely pay significantly less to participate than they did in 2012.

The Princeton governing body introduced an ordinance last night that would set the registration fee at $65 per year, effective beginning Feb. 1. Residents who participated in the program last year paid $20 per month to Central Jersey Waste,  almost four times as much per year, officials said.

The municipality will break even with the $65 fee per household if the current participation level remains stable, officials said. Just under 500 households participate in the program.

Under the program, which began in 2010, organic waste is placed in a separate bucket, is picked up by Central Jersey Waste, and hauled to Delaware, where it is turned into compost.

Several cities across the U.S. have food waste recycling programs, including Seattle,  San Jose, and San Francisco, where the program is mandatory.

Food waste recycling reduces the amount of waste going into landfills, resulting in both environmental and economic benefits. When food waste is sent to a landfill, it decomposes and releases carbon dioxide and methane — harmful greenhouse gases that significantly contribute towards climate change. Recycling food waste also reduces waste disposal costs, because municipalities pay a tipping fee based on the tonnage that will go to the landfill. In addition to food scraps, items like egg shells, bones, pizza boxes, and napkins can be recycled.

Princeton Recycling Coordinator Janet Pellichero said the municipality will create an online sign up form for the 2013 program, and people will be able to register with a credit card. People who already participate in the program will receive an email confirming they want to stay in the program.

Councilman Patrick Simon suggested the town might want to pro-rate the fee for residents who sign up part way through the year.

Municipal Engineer Bob Kiser said the program will be easier to administrate if a start date is established. “The more people we have due at a certain date, the easier it will be to administrate,” he said.

The Council will hold a public hearing on the fee ordinance and take a final vote at the 7 p.m. Council meeting on Jan. 28 in the main meeting room at the municipal complex at 400 Witherspoon Street.