An official audit of Troy's waste stream has not been conducted, but based on state averages and total tonnage of waste, the CWG-C estimates that residents and commercial operators using DPW collection produce roughly 5,000 tons of organic (food and yard) waste per year [1][2][3]. A full audit of private, commercial operations was not possible or within the scope of this report, but it is likely that several thousand more tons of waste could be collected from these operations.

Neighborhood-scale systems will play an important role in Troy’s composting network in terms of providing gardens with fertilizer and educating residents. However, in order to manage organic material on the scale of thousands of tons per year with the potential to collaborate with other municipalities and commercial operators, a large-scale, DEC-permitted facility will be necessary.

Implementing a large-scale food waste diversion program requires the development of the infrastructure needed to collect and process the material. There are no facilities in Rensselaer County that actively compost food waste or co-compost food and yard waste at this time. In developing a pilot composting program, the City will need to consider:
  • Location and Scale
  • Facility permitting
  • Acquisition of feedstock
  • Management/monitoring of composting operation
  • Health and Safety
  • Cost
  • and Other site-specific considerations.

In addition, the collection of the organic material would need to be evaluated for commercial sectors and would include, but not be limited to collection container options and compatibility with haulers’ current collection vehicles, public education, and cost [4].

Based upon site visits, consulting experts, an assessment of needs and costs, and other research, the CWG-C recommends the development of a large-scale, commercial composting facility in Troy that utilizes static-aeration methods of processing organic materials including yard and food waste to produce heat (for agricultural/industrial uses), and the marketable products of compost, top soil, and mulch. While anaerobic digestion facilities are on the rise as an option for managing organic material and producing energy, the initial costs of AD facilities, as well as uncertainty as to the use of digestate (a sludge product of the AD process) for use in creating compost for agricultural purpose, make development of said facilities prohibitive for the City of Troy at this time. There is potential, however, to partner with the Rensselaer County Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP), currently re-tooling its digestion technology, to co-compost biosolids and food waste in a manner similar to Delaware County's Solid Waste Management Center. There are numerous potential commercial partners looking to provide expertise in the designing, building, and/or operating of a large-scale energy-generating facility in Troy.

Specific Recommendations:

  • Build a composting facility within or near Troy for end-use processing of commercial and institutional-scale organic material.
  • Alternately (or in addition), contract with local farms, facilities, and businesses that are currently composting at large scales.

3.4.1 Central Composting/Material Recovery Facility

Currently, there are no large-scale facilities in Rensselaer County that actively compost post-consumer food waste or co-compost food and yard waste. Delaware County, east of Ulster County, owns and operates an MSW co-composting facility near Walton, New York. Schenectady County's Yard Waste Composting Facility began a pilot program in October to collect pre-consumer food scraps from one hospital and two colleges. Large-scale food waste or organics composting facilities are typically more economically viable in locations like Troy that have high tipping fees for MSW disposal (>$50/ton), whose construction and/or operations are subsidized in some way, or where there are specific long-term economic considerations that lower the present worth cost over a 20-year planning period. [5]

Table 3.4.1: Options, Pros, & Cons for Commercial-Scale Organic Material Management Facility:

Haul Organic Material to a Local Farm or Composting Facility
Build and operate a windrow composting facility within Troy
Build and operate a covered, static aeration pile system within Troy
Build and operate an anaerobic digestion facility within Troy
Contract with one or more local farms or facilities to accept food waste.
Build a large, open pad and use basic city equipment to pile and turn waste materials. Some equipment purchase may be necessary, including a system for screening finished compost, front-loaders, chippers.
Build a large, enclosed warehouse building with static aeration bays, then dump waste material inside and pump air through the piles to aerate. Excess heated air can be recovered to reduce heating costs in nearby facilities.
Build an in-vessel anaerobic digestion facility consisting of large digestion tanks and gas-processing equipment to either generate heat or electricity on site, or be compressed into LNG for use in city vehicles or for sale on energy grid.
Processing handled off-site; no odor concerns to city residents; lowest upfront cost for the city
Least expensive system (investment and operating costs); market exists for finished compost product, mulch, and top soil; creates local jobs and businesses; revenue from tipping fees from commercial haulers and other municipalities
Allows for heat recovery; Less costly system (investment and operating costs); eliminates odor and aesthetic issues with a composting facility; market exists for finished compost product, mulch, and top soil; creates local jobs and businesses; revenue from tipping fees from commercial haulers and other municipalities
Produces energy which can be used to offset costs and eventually generate revenue; there may be grants available to develop and implement energy generation systems.
Hauling distance (cost of transportation); cost of tipping fees; only one operation currently accepting food waste in the region; few local jobs created; unfixed costs (gas, tipping fees)
Slightly higher potential for odors affecting neighboring properties; less contained in flood and rain events; higher labor needs and costs as compared to static aeration piles; does not recover any energy from the waste material
Higher upfront cost than an open-air windrow facility; higher operational costs (energy inputs, building maintenance); higher labor needs and costs
Very high upfront costs; limited use for sludge digestate and thus not as certain to produce usable organic material for fertilizer, etc.; high operational costs (energy, insurance, maintenance); requires consistent feedstock

The CWG-C recommends that the City of Troy create and release a request for proposals (RFP) for soliciting professional design services for development, installation, start-up, and commissioning of an in-vessel static aeration composting system. A centralized windrow or static aeration composting facility could streamline collection and realize the largest cost savings without the massive upfront investments required by in-vessel and anaerobic digestion facilities. While such facilities exist in open-air locations, within the city limits, it is recommended that the city build a facility inside of a warehouse on paved land in order to reduce odor, vermin, and runoff problems. A facility could begin as a small-scale windrow system as collection grows. As the feedstock volume increases, cost savings can be applied to build a covered facility. This tiered development strategy would reduce overall financial risk, though would not maximize organic waste collection upfront. Funding to build an in-vessel facility outright would be preferable. See table 3.4.1 comparing facility options.

Once a system of collecting and processing waste has been developed, the CWG-C further recommends the exploration of anaerobic digestion options for energy production, while recognizing the aforementioned problems.

Organizational Structure:

There are several possible organizational structures for a composting facility capable of handling this volume of food waste: a privately-run site, contracted by the City (either inside our outside of the city), a city-operated site, or a site operated by a Troy-based Materials Management Authority. Any of these would work well, and the best path is determined by political and financial realities. The CWG-C recommends that the City maintain control of the system because it has the potential to produce jobs for Troy residents, and expand to generate revenue from tipping fees from private haulers and/or other municipalities. The CWG-C also recommends the exploration of the formation of Troy's own Materials Management Authority, perhaps by reauthorizing and amending the Greater Troy Area Solid Waste Management Authority, decomissioned August 16, 2012[6]. State-commissioned authorities can raise their own bonds and have certain eminent domain rights, which would allow Troy to have far greater budgetary flexibility to develop and run a composting facility.


A site for a composting facility should be large enough to process the amount of organic materials estimated to be collected in Troy and partnering communities. It should furthermore be in close proximity to Troy's commercial institutions and schools to obviate long trips for organics delivery. Proximity to multiple forms of transportation are key for potentially collecting feedstock from other municipalities and selling bulk product to larger, farther markets. A site should preferably paved for ease of processing. While flooding and increasing sea levels should be seriously considered, the South Troy Industrial Area provides a potentially ideal location for achieving these goals:
  • Available acreage
  • Immediately off of the I-787 highway ramp
  • Access to functioning railroad lines currently in commercial use
  • Access to river barges with potential for building loading, commercial pier
  • Close proximity to current transfer station
  • Close proximity to Rensselaer County Sewer District Wastewater Treatment Plant for potential co-composting operations
  • Zoned for commercial use
  • Large hill and tree buffer separates it from the nearest residential sites.
  • Limited uses for brownfield designated areas.


Figure 3.4.1: The Chevron Site

The southernmost section of the South Troy Industrial Area is a 5.62 acre site currently owned by Chevron. The Commissioner of Planning presented an option to negotiate with Chevron to let the City, via the LDC, assume ownership. The soil is contaminated, but the impact can be mitigated by capping the site by paving, for example. The DEC facility permitting process includes thorough assessments to ensure non-contamination. It is our recommendation that the city begin negotiations with Chevron, the DEC, and any other necessary parties to discuss the sealing of the site and transfer to city ownership. If possible, it is our recommendation that the deal include building the foundation for a warehouse or in-vessel facility

Yard Waste:

There are nine composting facilities operating in the Capital Region that have solid waste facility permits from NYSDEC. These include two biosolids (sewage sludge) and six yard waste composting facilities, and one facility, CTI Agricycle in Washington County, which is permitted to accept both food and yard waste. Certain very small composting facilities are exempted from NYSDEC permitting requirements if they accept less than 3,000 cubic yards per year of animal manure/bedding or yard waste, alone or in combination. Other small composting facilities do not need permits, but must register with NYSDEC, if they accept more than 3,000, but less than 10,000, cubic yards of yard waste, or more than 1,000 cubic yards of source separated organic waste[7].

The Alamo, Troy's current yard waste recycling facility, has a limited capacity at 3,000 cubic yards at a time on site. It is a major investment to increase capacity for holding material for more than 72 hours and/or for over 3,000 cy as an increase requires a registered DEC permit.[8]

With a large, commercial-scale facility in Troy, the city can expand yard waste collection and use the yard waste (carbonaceous materials) as a feedstock source for static aeration composting. Also, the increase of backyard and neighborhood-scale composting will increase the demand for carbonaceous materials, particularly wood chips. The Alamo currently accepts and chips (to a fine mulching consistency) a mix of yard waste from residences and city-owned properties. This yard waste "compost" is not food grade as it contains contaminants of non-organic materials as well as chemicals from landscaping treatments. The Commissioner of DPW agreed to make available woodchips from trees separate from general yard waste for use in producing food-grade compost.


The Schenectady County Soil and Water Conservation District's Composting and Recycling Facility has been in operation since 1989. It accepts approximately 56,400 cubic yards of yard waste from municipalities and private haulers every year, and saves the county an average of $90,000 in tipping fees per year. In October of 2012 the facility began accepting food scraps from Ellis Hospital and Schenectady County Community College[9][10].

Figure 3.4.1: Cayuga provides a food waste collection and composting service to local businesses and residents to divert their food scraps from the waste stream and turn it into high quality compost.
Picture 11.png
Picture 9.png
Picture 10.png
Cayuga county compost bins
Monitoring compost at Cayuga facility

Figure 3.4.2: Schenectady County Composting and Recycling Facility.
Shredding and sifting equipment.
Windrow composting of yard waste and food scraps.
Finished, screened compost ready for packaging.

Figure 3.4.3: Delaware County Solid Waste Management Center. A Municipal Solid Waste and Biosolids Co-Composting Facility. Technology: Anerobic Digestion and In-Vessel Aeration Compost Curing System
Picture 5.png

Delaware County Solid Waste Management Center
Walton, New York

Project Description
The County’s Department of Public Works completed an Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan for Delaware County. The goal of the solid waste management strategy was to significantly increase recycling and beneficial reuse strategies. As part of their Integrated Solid Waste Management Planning efforts, the County became interested and began evaluating options for municipal solid waste composting as a way to achieve rather aggressive recycling goals. A draft Request for Proposal for the procurement of a municipal solid waste (MSW) composting technology was developed for public review and discussion. The County officially requested bids for MSW composting technology under New York State General Municipal Law 120W.
Project Features
Through GHD’s construction company, S&W Services, Inc., a joint venture partnership was developed with Conporec, Inc. of Quebec, Canada to design and build a municipal solid waste and biosolids co-composting facility for 35,000 tons/year of MSW and 65,000 tons/year of biosolids. The project consisted of: a fully enclosed receiving area for MSW and biosolids; a rotating drum bioreactor (48 meters long); mechanical separation and conveyance systems; automated window systems for curing compost; and an extensive odor control/air handling system.

3.4.2 Partnering with Local Farms or Composting Operations

A less expensive (with no revenue generation) option is for Troy to partner with local farms and/or composting facilities to turn organic materials into compost or use them for energy generation in already-extant anaerobic digestors. The State University of New York (SUNY) New Paltz campus and Vassar College compost some yard waste in static piles and transport food waste to McEnroe Farms where it is co-composted with yard waste and manure[11].

Potential Partner Facilities within 40 miles of Troy include:

Schenectady County Compost Facility: Glenville, NY (Schenectady County)
Operated by the Schenectady County Soil and Water Conservation District, 20 miles from Troy. The yard waste composting facility is accepting food waste as of October 2012 from Ellis Hospital, Schenectady County Community College, and county residents with permits. Jackie Baldwin at RPI/Sodexo has negotiated a contract for an independent hauler to bring RPI's source-separated food scraps from four dining hall kitchens to Schenectady's facility.

CTI AGRI-Cycle, LLC: Cambridge, NY (Washington County)
AGRI-Cycle is a private, composting operation 30+ miles from Troy in Cambridge, NY. The operation accepts food processing waste, manure, and yard waste from many sources, including municipalities.

Herrington Farms, Inc.: Troy, NY (Rensselaer County)
Herrington Farms processes cow bedding and manure and yard waste into salable compost, used by many gardeners in the region. Herrington Farms does not currently accept food waste from municipalities, but there are opportunities to partner with the farm for future development.

Booth's Blend: Greenwich, NY (Washington County)
Similar operation to that of Herrington Farms. Compost made from cow manure and carbonaceous feedstock. Does not currently accept food waste, but there are opportunities to develop a partnership.

Watervliet Organic Waste: Watervliet, NY (Albany County)
The City or Watervliet currently collects food scraps from 51 households to be composted at a site within city limits. Plans to expand their composting facility do not currently include accepting waste from other municipalities, but a paternership is conceivable.

  • Jackie Baldwin: Executive Chef at RPI, On-Site Services Solutions, Sodexo Education, (518) 276-8989
  • Greg Bell: BioEnergies of the Americas,
  • Jean Bonhotal: Associate Director, Cornell Waste Management Institute. (607) 255-8444 (
  • Barb Eckstrom: Solid Waste Manager, Tompkins County Solid Waste Division,, (607) 273-6632
  • Jeff Edwards: Planner/Recycling Coordinator, Schenectady County Dept. of Economic Development & Planning,, (518) 386-2225 x224
  • Gary Feinland: Environmental Program Specialist, NYS DEC,, (518) 402-8705
  • Phil Holloway: Empire Zero LLC,, (518) 526-4501
  • Brian Jerose: Partner, Agrilab Technologies,, (802) 933-8336
  • Glen Knecht: NY Sales Manager, Casella Organics, (207) 604-4497 (
  • Peter Moon: O2 Compost:
  • Dave Mosher: Director, Schenectady County Soil & Water Conservation District County Compost Facility,, (518) 399-6980
  • Alison Muehe: Engineer, GHD Inc.,, (315) 679-5723
  • Sally Rowland: Environmental Engineer, NYSDEC, (518) 402-8681
  • Tom Sanford: District Manager, Rensselaer County Soil & Water Conservation District. or (518) 271-1740/1764
  • Mark Wittig: Operations Manager, Cayuga Compost, Ithaca, NY.

[1]Beyond Waste: A Sustainable Materials Management Strategy for New York State,” New York Department of Environmental Conservation, las modified December 27, 2010,
[2] New York. State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Materials Management. Annual Report Form – Planning Unit Recycling Report: 2010, City of Troy. Troy, 2010.
[3] Estimate obtained as product of tonnage of Troy’s waste stream by State average organic materials content.
[4] "Food Waste Composting Pilot Project," Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency, accessed January 12, 2013,
[5] Ibid.
[6] Governor’s Press Office, “Governor Cuomo Reduces Size of Government by Signing Bills to Eliminate More Than 120 Inactive Local Authorities and Agencies,” New York State Governor’s Press Release, August 16, 2012.
[7] “Capital Region Sustainability Plan: Draft Plan Available for Review,” Cleaner Greener Communities Capital Region Consortium, last modified December 8, 2012,
[8]Bill Chamberlain (Solid Waste Coordinator) in discussion with Abby Lublin and Anasha Cummings, November 2012.
[9]Notes from a visit to the facility can be found here: County Composting and Recycling Facility Visit.docx/
[10]A presentation of facility start-up, operating, and equipment costs, and annual revenue from tipping fees, residential permits, and products:
[11] "Food Waste Composting Pilot Project," Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency, accessed January 12, 2013,