Recycling has become a cornerstone of our lives here in Frederick County. The blue bins that line the streets once every two weeks in front of our homes have become a familiar sight. We’ve come a long way from the 1991 pilot program for 4,000 households that launched recycling in the county.

But an article in The New York Times recently made us wonder if we couldn’t go a little bit beyond the plastic bottles, aluminum foil, paper and cardboard that make up most of what we throw in our recycling carts.

The Times article reported that following a highly successful pilot program, Mayor Michael Bloomberg will roll out a plan to allow all city residents to recycle food scraps. Residents will be issued containers into which they dump their food waste, and the program, while initially voluntary, is expected to become mandatory.

According to the Times, food waste and organic materials account for about a third of the city’s trash. If diverted from the three landfills to which waste is trucked at the cost of $80 a ton, the city could save $100 million a year. Initially, the program will handle 100,000 tons of food scraps that will be sent to a hired composting plant.

The program is expected to be so successful, the administration will seek proposals to build its own processing plant to transform the waste into biogas, which would be burned to generate electricity, according to the Times.

If you’re thinking New York is a long way from Frederick County, you’re correct. But a similar program is in place closer to home in Howard County, which is set to expand a food-waste recycling pilot program initiated more than a year ago.

According to a report in The (Baltimore) Sun, the county has completed a $800,000 processing plant to compost the collected food. That compost will be sold back to residents and will be used in parks and on other government property.

“It will, when it’s successful on a broader scale, show to other jurisdictions that it’s possible,” Howard County Executive Ken Ulman told The Sun in an April article.

About one in five households in the area targeted for the pilot take part, and so far, about 200 tons of food waste has gone to a composting facility, The Sun notes. Frederick County officials should take note and see how the Howard program fares.

In 2011, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 36 million tons of food waste was generated in the U.S., of which only 4 percent was diverted for composting. Food makes up the largest chunk of what goes into the nation’s landfills — 21 percent — behind plastics (18 percent) and paper and cardboard (15 percent). It’s decomposition in the landfill releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas, according to the EPA.

Clearly there’s a need here to create a more environmentally friendly course than simply dumping food in our waste bins.

We’d like to see the county investigate the possibility of a local food waste recycling program (whether or not we commit to the waste-to-energy plant currently under consideration). It’s worth the discussion, could lengthen the life of the landfill in Frederick County, and benefit the environment.

(19) comments


This idea is definitely worth some study. So much food is wasted daily in homes, schools, restaurants that it seems logical that we should do something with it besides dumping it in the landfill.


A study funded in part by the U.S. EPA, examines city-based composting as a method of waste diversion.
The Center for a Competitive Waste Industry examined composting programs in 121 cities in its study, "Beyond Recycling: Composting Food Scraps and Soiled Paper."
The 79-page report provides best practices for expanding beyond recycling and advice on processing food scraps, soiled paper and yard trimmings. These materials make up half of all household solid waste, according to the study authors, and up to 75% of it can be composted.
More cities are beginning to look at a centralized composting program as part of a residential recycling program. Some cities, like San Francisco, adopted mandatory organics composting along with recycling as an effort to reach Zero Waste and other waste reduction goals.
Other cities adopted the program as a way to protect groundwater from landfill leachate or to avoid high landfill costs.


The County already has a facility for composting yard waste over here on Devilbiss Road. Anyone with a load of lawn clippings, for example, can dump it there and it'll get turned in with all the rest. Food waste is another matter. For one thing, it begins to spoil almost immediately - especially on a hot day. How are you going to collect it? Would we have food waste containers in front of every house on collection days stinking to high heaven? The idea of recycling food waste seems righteous but the killer is in the details.


You know New York is totally different than here. When food rots it doesn't stink.


The New York plan is not the first. San Francisco was the first.

We accept all food, soiled paper, and plants in the green bin. Only plastics labeled "compostable" are accepted in the green bin.
Get more information of where to purchase "compostable" bags.



Here's a composting plant design from Uganda (Africa).

1.5. Justification for compositing
Biodegradable garbage rotting in landfill produces methane gas—a ‘greenhouse gas’ that contributes to global warming. Methane is 21 times more potent in its greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide (from car exhaust), and landfills are the largest man-made source of methane (37% globally). That’s why the European Union, World Bank Government of Uganda and Masindi Municipal Council are moving to ban biodegradable material from landfills. By separating and composting biodegradable materials under controlled conditions instead of land filling them, methane production is significantly reduced and these materials are recycled into compost, a valuable resource for fertilizing soil.

See _CDM_Site.pdf


Stop wasting food,just buy what is needed to survive,no waste.


Good answer. Best answer. It's better to have smaller portions at restaurants than to throw food away too. If you're not going right home you can't take a box home to the refrigerator. Restaurants should be the first to participate in a food compositing program. Cafe Nola will do it. They grow their own produce too.


The Red Horse already does this.


I've never been there. But I'll go now. Anyone else?

I throw away very little food but when I go to a restaurant there's always left overs I can't take with me. I prefer to cook what I can eat and avoid plan overs; a term I learned in my Tupperware days.


Red Horse restaurant goes green
Originally published March 16, 2011

By Ike Wilson
News-Post Staff

Red Horse restaurant goes green

Tim Van Hall, executive chef at the Red Horse restaurant, peels vegetables and places the scraps into a bucket to be composted Tuesday afternoon at the restaurant in Frederick.
Owners of the Red Horse Restaurant in Frederick are hoping their three-prong approach to being environmentally friendly will catch on in the business community.
Roy Bromfield, co-owner of the restaurant, wants to make the eatery Dumpster-free by 2012, compost 100 percent of all pre-consumer vegetable waste and purchase electricity from renewable energy sources.
To meet the 2012 goal, the restaurant owners, who have been recycling cardboard for several years, have expanded their efforts to include glass, plastic and paper waste. The measure will keep 100 to 150 pounds of waste out of the trash bin every week, Bromfield said.
When Bromfield found out the county doesn't pick up commercial recyclables, he hired a company for the task.
"It has reduced my solid waste going to the landfill by three-quarters, easy. Garbage is being picked up once a week, not twice, and recyclables are being picked up once a week," Bromfield said.
The restaurant owners have also pledged to compost 100 percent of all pre-consumer vegetable waste such as the ends of broccoli, lettuce core and garnishment that is usually thrown out.
"What we're composting is no protein," Bromfield said. "Whatever you put in your compost pile at home is what we're doing."
Bromfield said he has been composting at home for years with no smell or complaints. The compost generated weekly from the restaurant will be used to raise fresh produce in the Red Horse kitchen garden.
The owners have also decided to buy 100 percent wind-generated electricity beginning in May.
"Everyone thinks renewable energy sources are more expensive, but I'm here to tell you it's a myth," Bromfield said. "My experience is it's cheaper, at least it is with Clean Currents, the company I'm dealing with."
Bromfield said he's glad that Gov. Martin O'Malley is backing legislation to build wind farms 10 miles off Maryland's coast. "The wind thing is big," he said.
Bromfield is also considering whether to install solar panels to heat hot water at the restaurant, thereby, eliminating the use of gas.
"I can draw all my hot water needs from solar and it's very easily done," Bromfield said. And, at a cost of about $8,000 with about $4,000 in federal and state grants, the installation cost could be cut in half, he said.
"But I haven't committed to that yet," he said.
Bromfield credits local environmental activist Caroline Eader for sparking his interest in accelerating the restaurant's sustainability efforts.
"She was the inspiration to me getting the restaurant to do this" following a seminar sponsored by Brewer's Alley restaurant and WasteNot, a volunteer citizen group promoting sustainability and waste reduction.
The business breakfast explored how businesses could save money and expand opportunities through food waste composting and more effective recycling.
Steve Simon, a partner in the Fifth Group Restaurants, spoke about the success of his four Dumpster-free restaurants in Atlanta's Zero Waste Zone.
"If they can do it in Atlanta, why not here in Frederick?" Bromfield said.
The compost push is his own grass-roots initiative, Bromfield said.
"If you have kids and grandkids, you got to be thinking about what the extended life of our environment is. You have to be stewards of the land if you want to be here for any length of time," Bromfield said.
Steve Chavitz, a member of the Frederick County Sustainability Commission, said the commission is pleased with Red Horse's Earth-friendly initiatives and accomplishments.
"What the Red Horse and other businesses, such as the Common Market, are doing in this very important environmental area, is extremely important for the county," Chavitz said.


compost beats hazardous waste every time. WTE proponents really hate good ideas like this. Soon, there will be nothing to burn.


"whether or not we commit to the waste to energy plant"??? I was following your line of reasoning until that statement popped up. It is almost completed and you want to walk away from it? You want to spend how many gallons of diesel fuel spewing tons of CO2 into the atmosphere to truck our waste to Ohio (or where ever). Waste food would be best hauled to the waste to energy plant and used for fuel in a controlled process. Your thinking is not logical.


As mentioned in the editorial food waste makes up a large chunk of the waste stream (20-30%). It is not very good for burning because of it's high moisture content. In order for Frederick County to achieve the proper BTU's needed to make the incinerator work they will have to import 55 tons per of tires per day to burn. These tires will have to be trucked in from all over the eastern seaboard burning how many gallons of diesel fuel spewing how many tons of CO2 into the atmosphere to import waste from outside the state. Tires, when burned, give off some nasty emissions. Much worse than diesel fumes.


Okay stupid me. But why is Frederick County not sending it's trash to the Dickerson WTE? They could put it on rail cars in Frederick. They put it on rail cars in Derwood to get it to Dickerson in Montgomery County. Wouldn't it be cheaper to add another furnace if there's not enough capacity than to build a whole new facility?


$1,400.00 per car from 7001 to 9999999 cubic feet (capacity measure) is the public price.



The folks in the Division of Solid Waste had dreams of a trash incinerator paying for other projects. The plan as it currently stands calls for importing over 300,000 tons of garbage a year from other jurisdictions. Frederick only generated 151,000 tons of garbage in 2011 and it's trending downward. The incinerator needs around 525,000 tons a year to make it cost effective.


One furnace can burn 600 tons per day so it only needs to operate 252 days a year to process 151,000 tons per year.

You hear constantly about those dreams of profit and loss from the county but it's not a business you know.


Montgomery Co. will not allow outside waste to be delivered to its facility. Frederick on the other hand is allowing the NMWDA to site its incinerator in Frederick and set no limits on who can bring their waste to Frederick. The route the trucks can take along county roads must not be "reasonably" limited, and the Frederick citizens get to subside the cost of operating this facility and to pay for its debt thru the SBC tax found on each and every property tax bill.
So who's laughing all the way to the bank? The NMWDA and Wheelabrator for sure, and one has to wonder who else.

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