City Fire Department pilots food scrap collection program

(PLATTSBURGH NY, Monday February 13th 2023) - In partnership with the City of Plattsburgh Climate Task Force, The City of Plattsburgh Fire Department (PFD) has recently committed to participating in an initiative to divert food scraps from the waste stream and convert it into rich, composted soil.

In the Fall of 2022, The City Council unanimously passed the Food Waste Reduction and Recycling Policy and now, with the PFD’s participation and readiness to model the collection process, the City Climate Task Force plans to facilitate food scrap collection in all municipal buildings as the policy requires.  


The Task Force Organics Management working group has worked for months to design a workable collection system that would accommodate administrative and staff needs. “It’s part of our culture to throw all “garbage” away, but the reality is that there is no “away” for us to throw things”, says Climate Task Force Coordinator Rachelle Armstrong.  


The City policy acknowledges that fact by stating: “In the US, about 63 million tons of food are wasted each year and 94% of all food waste ends up in landfills. As that food rots it releases methane gas which is a greenhouse gas responsible for warming the planet. This waste occurs while 41 million Americans are food insecure and poses one of the biggest environmental threats to the planet. Reducing the amount of food waste and diverting the remaining waste from landfills are the most effective ways to reduce the environmental impact of our food system and feed our communities.  By educating employees, engaging residents, and developing a food rescue plan, The City of Plattsburgh is committed to reducing and diverting food waste.”  


Education is a key part of the food waste diversion process.  The Fire Department staff watched a training video produced by Clinton County Health Department Supervising Public Health Educator, KayLeigh Rayville and received posters that explained what can be composted and the method for disposal. An audit of food scrap volume generated on a daily basis took place from February 8th-11th at both fire stations.  Task force volunteers and SUNY Environmental Studies students assisted  with the process. The goal is for food scrap collection to become a new workplace habit at both stations.  The next step will be full policy implementation at all city buildings.  


A plan is also in the works to eventually open each composting bin for public use.  The task force Organics Management group’s long range goal is to assist the city in developing a municipal food waste diversion system.  The City is currently applying for an EPA grant to expand composting in our community.


This is just one of many exciting projects the City Climate Task Force is working on as it works with the City government to develop a more sustainable future.  If you are looking for ways to join their efforts, follow them on Facebook (@sustainableplattsburgh) and Instagram (@plattcsc)or attend monthly meetings held on the third Wednesday of the month at 5:00 pm at the Plattsburgh Public Library.