It's lunch time at Mercy High School in Middletown. Signs made by the students line the walls, promoting food and waste recycling. Three types of garbage totes are placed in front of each exit. And on each of the 27 tables is a sign with three symbols representing food waste, plastic, and trash.
"...Even though they're marked recyclable, they're not. Because it's not a biodegradable compostable recyclable. So this isn't going to go into your compost. Can I take this in with my bottles and cans?..."
That's Sally Flynn, a sales representative for Global Environmental Services, or "Global," a new division of John's Refuse and Recycling, a family-owned waste hauling company that picks up Mercy's Garbage, and their food waste.
Jean Pepitone is a teacher at Mercy, and has been involved in making the school more green.
"They're educating themselves at the tables of what goes where, and have a greater understanding about their food waste. That's what's really important."
Global started collecting food waste a few months ago as a pilot program, when a food-composting plant opened in New Milford. Before the plant opened, most food waste in the state either went into landfills, or got burned in waste-to-energy plants -- a process that uses a lot more energy because of the high water-content in food.
Andrew Bozzuto, president of Global, says by taking food waste out of the regular waste stream, it's less costly to dispose of. Tip fees charged by regular dumps cost about $80 a ton. The New Milford composting plant -- the only one of its kind in the state -- charges $50 a ton.
"Each barrel of food waste that we collect, we weigh, this way, we submit it to the customer, and they can see their true off-set, and maybe helping their carbon foot-print by putting this material to a better use, you know?"
Bozzuto says he's invested close to a quarter million dollars in Global already. Because he needs to build routes and volume fast, he says he's targeting large corporate facilities, universities, and even state prisons.
"Cause these are all three-meal day things, and incarceration places fit the criteria perfectly as well as hospitals. So, we're trying to stay on volume base right now to get our numbers up, afterward we're going to try an fill-in with all the mom-and-pop restaurants throughout the area."
And some of those have already happily jumped on board.
"We're constantly making changes, trying to become greener, and more environmentally friendly, and more responsible."
Katie Hughes is the owner and operator of Perk on Main, a cafe-eatery in Durham, Conn. Along with recycling and separating food waste, she's investing about $2,500 a year to buy eco-friendly compostable coffee cups.
"The big initiative was trying to figure out where we could take those compostable cups along with our food waste, and actually turn them into compost. We we're half-way there that we were doing less damage by the way that they were made, but we wanted to take it through actually turning it back into something like mulch, or something along those lines."
And that's what the New Milford plant does -- selling the compost to hardware stores and garden centers.
Trash hauler Andrew Bozzuto says he would like to get into that business himself. He's currently looking for site to build his own composting facility in the Hartford area.
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