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Stories From Main Street: Express Composting Being Tested In Valhalla

Ecovim Machine Composts Overnight Instead Of Taking Three To Four Weeks
Food waste is poored into an Ecovim machine in Valhalla, N.Y. (credit: Sean Adams / WCBS 880)

Food waste is poored into an Ecovim machine in Valhalla, N.Y. (credit: Sean Adams / WCBS 880)

VALHALLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - As Mayor Michael Bloomberg looks to expand food recycling in New York City, there is a Westchester County program also headed in that direction.

Composting is catching on up there and Louis Vetrone, the deputy commissioner for the county Department of Environmental Facilities, is trying to get schools, hospitals and cafeterias to try out a quick composting device called the Ecovim.

The idea is that less garbage means lower hauling costs for the county and businesses, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported. Less garbage is also, of course, better for the environment.

The device currently being tested in Valhalla across the road from Westchester Medical Center is the size of a large restaurant dishwasher.

What can you put in the machine?

“Everything you can think of from mashed potatoes [and] macaroni to meat, eggs, and fruit,” Department of Environmental Facilities intern Micahel Nork told Adams. “Some chicken wings, some French fries, chicken nuggets.”

Mario Parise, director of operations for Westchester County’s solid waste division, said the food is churned at 180 degrees Fahrenheit overnight and the next day, it will have been reduced by 80 to 90 percent.

Parise was impressed by the speed and noted that other composting processes can take three to four weeks.

When it’s done, the result looks like coffee grounds.

“We could put it as mulch around the trees, the grass as fertilizer,” he said.

“Westchester County is very insightful because it’s been primarily used on the west coast. This is one of the first of three installations on the east,” said Myron Alexander, who works for OWARECO, LLC, the company that makes the Ecovim.

Stories from Main Street - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

Stories from Main Street – Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

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Vetrone said this is just the beginning. The county is now also rescuing unused food with the help of the think tank Rock and Wrap it Up.

Next year, one yet-to-be-named Westchester town will try out residential composting of food scraps.

“This is the wave of the future. This is where we have to go. You know, the state’s asking all the counties by the year 2030 to get down to 0.6 pounds per person of garbage a day,” Vetrone said. “The new frontier is food waste. The only way to get that low and to produce that little waste per person is to have residents and businesses start composting their food waste.”

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