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Food waste reduction, donation, and organics recycling program

The City of Rochester’s Office of Energy & Sustainability is developing a public education and outreach campaign and conducted a feasibility study for organics recycling (food waste composting) as part of our Food Waste Reduction, Donation and Organics Recycling Program. 

Public Education and Outreach 

While an estimated 40% of food produced in the US is wasted each year, many households in our nation and our city remain food insecure due to lack of access to enough healthy and nutritious food, which can result in negative impacts on their health and well-being. The public education and outreach program will raise awareness about preventing food waste and promoting food donation to help citizens get the most benefit from their money spent on food and to ensure that those who can’t afford to buy healthy food have access to food donations.  Click here to visit the Food Waste Education and Outreach webpage and learn more. Click here to download the Food Is Treasure Program Guide (pdf).

Feasibility Study for Organics Recycling 

What is organics recycling?

Organics is a general term that refers to food waste (food scraps, inedible items like eggs shells, fruit/vegetable peels, coffee grounds and more) and yard waste (leaves, grass/plant clippings, and more).

  • Organics recycling is the process of turning organics into compost that can be added to soil to nourish plants and create a healthy garden.
  • Compost is created by mixing different types of food and yard waste which are categorized as greens (fruit/veg scraps, etc.) and browns (dead leaves, twigs, etc.) and water in the right proportion. Browns provide nitrogen, greens provide carbon, and water provides moisture, and over time, at the right temperature, they help to break down organic matter to create compost — a dark, nutrient rich organic material that is added to soil.  

What are the benefits of organics recycling?

  • Rochester’s Community-wide Climate Action Plan recommends the implementation of an organics collection program to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and, as a result, reduce landfill GHG emissions (methane).
  • Compost produced from the organics recycling program is a useful end-product that can improve the quality of soil on city and residential properties and promote the expansion of flower and vegetable gardens that will benefit the community as well as wildlife.
  • Adding compost to soil reduces the need for chemical fertilizers which can be expensive and can pollute our water bodies or harm wildlife.
  • By collecting and composting organics, the City can divert more waste from landfills, reducing its landfill disposal costs.

Why conduct a feasibility study?

The feasibility study helped the City determine how and to what extent organics (food waste and yard waste) can be collected and composted. Here’s what was involved in the study:

  • Waste characterization – Sampling garbage and measuring the amount of food and yard waste in it currently will help us determine how much organic material we can expect to collect and compost.
  • Case studies – We’ll learn how other similar communities have implemented organics recycling programs and take note of best practices.
  • Program operations and logistical considerations such as collection containers and vehicles, collection schedule and locations, organics processing equipment, use for compost generated.
  • Gather feedback from stakeholders (stay tuned for feedback opportunities)
  • Develop strategy for program implementation and public awareness.
  • Final recommendations for implementing a successful organics recycling program.

The feasibility study recommended that the City conduct a pilot scale compost program to collect data and feedback. Based on the results of the pilot, the City will determine how to expand the compost program. Learn more about ROC City Compost Pilot here.


What can be composted?  

  • Vegetable food scraps including banana and avocado peels
  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grounds
  • Grass and tree clippings
  • Specific paper products including napkins, paper towels and paper plates, coffee filters black and white newspaper, printer paper
  • Meat, dairy, cheese products 

How do I participate?      

The feasibility study will be looking at how households in the City of Rochester currently dispose of organic waste.                                                                                                                                                                                     

How much does composting cost to a household?
The feasibility study will be looking at cost-effective measures for the implementation phase of the project.                                          
What type of container is used for composting?
If the feasibility study finds a composting solution for our community, containers would be provided to all City of Rochester households. 

Are pests or odors affiliated with composting? 
They can be if the area is not well maintained. Any issues with pests or odor can often be easily remedied.
How is this different from backyard composting?
Industrial composting has a few major differences:
  •  Larger piles
  • A more diverse assortment of acceptable materials (like meat, dairy, cheese, bioplastics and paper compostable-wares, for example)
  • The decomposition process is faster in general - so 30-45 days vs. 6-12 months
  • The finished product is generally more robust because it has been managed and not just in a static pile.

Can I participate if I compost on my own (backyard)?

Yes, of course


For more information, please reach out to Shalini Beath, Energy & Sustainability Manager, at