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Blasdell piloting recycling program to turn food scraps into compost

In the midst of February when the Western New York landscape is primarily covered in varying shades of white, one village is taking the first step toward turning its part of the world a little greener.

Blasdell is piloting a food scrap recycling program, the first of its kind in the county, officials said, which they hope will reduce waste in the village and become a shining example to other municipalities.

Known as the Organic Source Separating Program, the goal is simple: reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfills and, in the process, save the village money.

In January, the village put out 87.1 tons of waste. Although the village already recycles glass, paper and aluminum, as well as separating yard waste from regular trash, some people think that's not enough.

Janet Plarr is one of them. The village administrator and a lifelong recycling enthusiast grew up on a dairy farm where nothing was wasted.

"For every ton of garbage Blasdell sends off to the landfill, it costs $47.58 plus the expense of the garbage service contractor," she said. "If you look at the budget, we pay almost as much for garbage services as for the police. If we recycle, we're not only saving the earth and reducing methane, we're saving money."

But getting residents to buy into the program is key.

At an informational meeting earlier this month, residents voiced concern and support for the pilot program. Most questions dealt with the odors of decomposing material and the possibility of rodents.

John Palmer, owner of the Blasdell firm working with the village on the program, is using guidelines provided by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. He said the scraps will be dumped regularly into a concrete bin where they will be layered with wood chips until the matter decomposes.

In theory, Palmer said it should take a month for the scraps to become enriched compost -- much less time than the years it can take food to decompose in a landfill, he said.

"In California and Colorado, they are doing this already. We don't have to do it here yet, but any food scraps we can keep out of our garbage will reduce garbage costs for the village," Palmer said.

Methane gas, a greenhouse gas that environmentalists say has a warming effect 23 times as potent as carbon dioxide, should also be reduced by this process, he said.

Villagers are being asked to place their organic scraps in a bucket or container and dump them off at 190 Lake Ave. in the designated bin at Lardon Construction, the wood byproduct manufacturing firm providing both the drop-off point and the manpower to compost the material.

Acceptable materials for recycling are: coffee grounds, filters, tea bags, fruits and vegetables, eggshells, nutshells, breads, pasta, rice, fireplace ashes, hair and fur.

Milk and meat products, which tend to have strong odors, are not allowed.

Lardon is receiving no funds for its part in the organic source separating program, but Palmer said it could be possible in five years to turn a profit by selling the resulting compost as high-grade organic fertilizer -- if enough people take part.

He hopes to give the program a full year to get people involved while working out the kinks, which he admits are bound to sprout up along the way.

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