Back in 2014, Lambertville began a pilot “Third Can” composting program. Roughly 75 households participated in curbside food waste collection funded with a grant of $10,000 from the Sustainable Jersey Small Grants Program, and supplemented at a cost of $65 per participant.
Last year, this collection, which is trucked to Ag Choice in Sussex County, cut the tonnage of food waste generated by the city by about 10 percent, after expanding to include an additional one-hundred households. Then, in January 2016, Lambertville restaurants were given the ability to join, at a cost of $90 for three third can bins.
Beth Ann Caruso, owner of Caffe Galleria and City Market, has benefited from the program already, greening the environment as well as her business’s bottom line.
“It’s a no-brainer in every way shape and form — we’re cutting back on waste and saving dollars,” said Caruso.
Because both of Caruso’s businesses are open seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, she always had to hire a third party trash company, in addition to weekly regular city trash collection. Caruso was paying for additional pickup on Fridays, at an average cost of $236 per month at the Market, and $226 per month at Caffe.
So when she investigated the financials of opting into the Third Can program, Caruso asked Lambertville Public Works director, Lester Myers if there was a catch. When told there wasn’t one, she then purchased three cans for City Market and six cans for Caffe Galleria, at an annual cost of $270, representing over $5,000 in projected savings this calendar year.
“I waited for spring to cancel the third party trash collection beforehand, because winter is a slower season for us,” said Caruso. “The manager at City Market told me that we didn’t need the extra pickup because the dumpster was mostly empty every Thursday morning.”
DeAnna’s Restaurant and Bar also began this undertaking at the same time. Co-owner and pastry chef Lisa Nichols noted there was an initial two-week period of time to train staff on how to properly dispose of everything, including putting lists on refrigerators, and added, “The trash is about one-third of what it once was. Between regular recycling and the new [third] cans, there’s not a lot of garbage left.”
City Environmental Commission Chairperson Jane Rosenblatt wrote, “The environmental commission thanks these restaurants for their leadership, and encourages Lambertville residents and those who are visiting town to frequent all of them. You’ll see more stickers popping up around town at the other participating restaurants over the next few weeks.” She also noted that El Tule Restaurant and Jess’s Juice Bar have recently signed up for the third can arrangement as well.
Lambertville Mayor David DelVecchio estimated that the city has saved over $800 on municipal solid waste disposal in the first six months of 2016 as compared to 2015 . When asked if residential as well as businesses would eventually need to pay on an annual basis to continue the Third Can program, he acknowledged that the city is figuring out costs before deciding that part.
In the meantime, Caruso is enjoying the monetary and environmental benefits of the third can program.
“We would love to be at a point of zero waste, but as a restaurant it’s hard; we generate a lot of trash,” she observed. “This is a great program, and it made total sense for us to do.”
Kudos to the business’s and residents that participate in this program ! C’mon New Hope, let’s get on board. The business district/ town proper doesn’t even have recycle bins. Walking about town I , especially after weekends, see trash bins overflowing with glass and plastic. Imagine if composting restaurant /household waste were an option.
I am part of this program as an individual. There needs to be a better way though to manage the food waste as the special garbage bags that are used for composting start to disintegrate almost immediately resulting in many maggots in the recycling container. Rather than have to wash it out on a weekly basis I have put in a regular heavy duty plastic garbage bag liner which does help with cleanliness but the flys still manage to flourish. I can’t even begin to imagine what a restaurant’s recycling bins look like with all the food waste. If there is a better way to manage I’m all for it but this summer has been tough. Maybe pickups need to occur twice a week in the warmer months.
I’m in the program as well. One week last summer, I witnessed a similar scene that you described here. Then I just tried my best to put the bag out on a weekend day, so it was only sitting outside for a day or two at the most, before the Monday morning collection.
The one time the bag totally failed on me was when I left it half full for two weeks.
I’ve doubled bagged too when the holes occur, but agree, wish something a little more hardy could be used.