North Elba could recycle food scraps to grow more food

Town hears proposal to build anaerobic digester

North Elba Supervisor Robert "Roby" Politi

North Elba Supervisor Robert "Roby" Politi Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that food scraps make up 14 percent (34 million tons) of municipal waste in the U.S., and less than 1 percent is recycled. And yard trimmings make up about 13 percent of U.S. waste.

Anaerobic digesters are popular in Europe and the city of Toronto has success with its system.

If the digester project is adopted in the town of North Elba, residents would have to keep a separate container for food waste, and separate food waste removal services will be required.

Federal funding is available to set up the system, which is not complicated, according to Morgan.

“It’s really plumbing; it’s not really crazy technology,” Morgan said.

Morgan suggested two options for managing the anaerobic digester system. One was to have Essex County run the operation.

But North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi said, given the county’s current fiscal situation, that’s unlikely.

“I don’t think the county is an option,” Politi said. “I can see the county yielding to the towns instead of the towns yielding to the county.”

Morgan also suggested that the town lease the digester program to a private company, such as Casella. But the supervisor and councilmen were in favor of a third option.

“Why would we have to deal with an outside source instead of doing it ourselves?” Politi said.

“I’d like to see North Elba do it,” said Councilman Jack Favro.

Yet the town is faced with one possible problem.

“Do we have the space down there?” Politi asked. “Although it looks like a big space, it’s somewhat restricted.”

There needs to be room for a tank and a greenhouse.

Politi said it’s not an issue to pass a conceptual resolution for the anaerobic digester.

“Just make sure we’re the first one,” added Councilman Bob Miller.

A feasibility study could be completed by the end of July and the town could go out to bid in August.

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