Princeton Gearing Up to Recruit More Residents for Food Waste Recycling Program

foodwasteFewer than 60 percent of the Princeton residents who participated in the food waste recycling program in the two Princetons have signed up for the new program, an official reported at a Princeton Council meeting Monday night.

“The program has fewer people than previously. Between 250 and 275 of the approximately 450 households that participated last year have signed back up,” said Bob Hough, director of infrastructure and operations for the municipality. “We were giving first dibs to the people in the program last year, but we will be opening it up to other residents now.”

Hough said one possible reason people have not renewed their membership in the program is that the town is not able to accept credit cards. Residents must come to the municipal building and pay by check or cash.

The program costs participants about 70 percent less than it did last year. The Council approved an ordinance last month setting the fee at $65 per household for 2013. Last year the cost was $20 per month. The program is capped at 1,000 households right now.

“We will start advertising, place ads in the local papers, and use videos and other creative means to market the program,” Hough told the Council.

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.

Sustainable Jersey has awarded Sustainable Princeton a $20,000 grant to be used to market the program, the first residential food waste recycling program in the state.

One Comment

  1. I’d suggest a closer analysis of who is not participating from pre-consolidation. As township residents, we participated in the excellent composting program — we had to pay for our trash pickup anyway, so why not pay for the composting program. Now our trash is “paid” for (via our taxes), and even though the program is cheaper than before, what is NOT mentioned often is that the consolidated Princeton SAVES money with composting program (lower volume on regular trash means lower hauling cost to the municipality). So why should we pay an additional fee to help save the municipality money? We’re sure not going to get a deduction in our property taxes! Instead of using the 20k for marketing, how about using the money to subsidize the $65 fee for 307 households for a year? You’ll build interest, lower costs to the municipality, and perhaps one day we can standardize the program.

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