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Food waste on city's menu 

Each year, Americans put billions of pounds of uneaten food and scraps in the trash. And they do so at hefty costs, not just to the local governments that have to haul residents' garbage to landfills, but also in terms of the climate-disrupting greenhouse gases that food waste generates.

To counter those problems, cities across the country have started food-waste composting programs. And in the not-too-distant future, the City of Rochester could join their ranks.

City officials plan to do a feasibility study for a public food-waste collection and composting program. Mayor Lovely Warren is asking City Council to approve an $80,000 contract with LaBella Associates to assist with the study; half of the money is coming from a state Department of Environmental Conservation grant. Council should vote on the legislation at its September 17 meeting.

A food scraps recycling program has the potential to lower city solid waste disposal costs, says Anne Spaulding, manager of the city's Division of Environmental Quality. It would also help the city work toward the greenhouse gas reduction goals it set in its Climate Action Plan, she says.

As part of the feasibility study, the city and its consultant will determine the amount of food scraps present in the solid waste the city collects, Spaulding says. They'll also examine several other issues, including how often the city would need to collect the food scraps; whether the city should collect the waste through pick-ups, resident drop-offs, or both; and the potential costs. The study should take about a year to complete, Spaulding says.

Any program put in place by the city would have an education component, which would focus not just on the basics of food waste recycling, but also on food waste prevention, Spaulding says.

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