Montgomery County Recycles More Than 200,000 Pounds of Food Waste

Montgomery County has collected more than 200,000 pounds of food scraps and recycled them into a material that helps the soil by improving drainage, water retention and aeration. The result is less food waste being tossed into general trash as well as compost for sale.

The Montgomery County Commercial Food Scraps Recycling Partnership Program, which operates out of the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, announced that thanks to its commercial partners and despite the pandemic, it has collected more than 200,000 pounds of food waste.

The program, which began in 2020, includes 11 partners. Each of those partners separate pre-consumer food scraps for recycling, using 35-gallon collection containers and compostable bags that they receive from the DEP’s waste reduction and recycling program.

The county then collects the recycling three times each week and transports it to the Prince George’s County Western Branch Organics Composting Facility, where the collected scraps are mixed with yard trim and processed. The result is the commercial product Leafgro Gold.

“Think about it—200,000 pounds of food scraps that would have gone in the trash was instead converted to compost and is serving a new purpose,” DEP Director Adam Ortiz wrote in a news release. “All of this is due to the commitment from our commercial partners. We know 2020 was a very difficult year for these businesses, and yet, they understand the importance of protecting our environment and the steps they can take to reduce waste.”

County Executive Marc Elrich praised the program, noting, “Increasing recycling of food scraps from the commercial sector is an important part of our zero waste goals.” He added, “Our partners have shown that recycling food scraps benefits both their business and the environment at the same time. I look forward to seeing this program grow.”

Participants are:

  • Chevy Chase Country Club, Chevy Chase
  • GSK, Rockville
  • John L. GildnerRegional Institute for Children & Adolescents, Rockville
  • Kenwood Country Club, Bethesda
  • Purée Artisan Juice Bar, Rockville
  • Qiagen, Germantown
  • QuartermaineCoffee Roasters (Bethesda location), Bethesda
  • Relish Catering LLC, Rockville
  • Shepherd’s Table, Silver Spring
  • Simply Fresh Events Catering, Gaithersburg
  • So What Else, Inc., Rockville

“We joined the program because we believe, as a food business, it is our responsibility to take care of earth which gives us so many beautiful food products from fruits and vegetables to the animals raised off the land, air and water. Additionally, we need to leave our community better than we find it, which certainly includes limiting food waste and removing food waste from the general trash,” Laura Calderone, owner of Relish Catering, LLC., wrote in the release.

“We love this program because, not only is it good for the environment, but Montgomery County does an incredible job supplying materials for the program and communicating any changes to the pickup schedule etc. It honestly takes very little effort on our end outside of training our staff what could be composted. We look forward to this program expanding and creating a healthier environment for generations to come,” she added.

The county estimated that about 124,000 tons of food scraps were disposed of during 2017.

Here is a video by the DEP about the program.

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Suzanne Pollak

About Suzanne Pollak

Suzanne is a freelance reporter with Montgomery Community Media. She has over 35 years professional experience writing for newspapers, magazines, non-profit newsletters and the web.

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