Implementing municipal composting in Troy, at all scales, requires significant funding for research, start-up, and long-term operational costs. Financial sustainability is essential to the success and longevity of any municipal program. Depending upon the degree to which residents and other stakeholders embrace increased recycling and composting, the CWG-C projects that these initiatives, beyond the initial infrastructure and equipment investments in a large-scale facility, will cover their own operational costs and potentially serve as continual revenue streams for the City. Compost from neighborhood-scale programs can save DPW the expense of buying mulch and soil. A large-scale facility will accept thousands of tons of food scraps to produce salable quantities of compost as well as bring in tipping fees from other municipalities and/or commercial haulers. New technologies in processing organic materials emerge daily, and large-scale facility managers and engineers are available for consultation.

Numerous resources exist to help guide the City of Troy through raising financial capital for organic materials management, including the Environmental Finance Center based at Syracuse University which provides a Funding Guide for Capital Projects in Sustainable Materials Management[1]. "With this reference tool, we hope to take some of the guesswork out of grant research for capital projects in sustainable materials management. This reference tool was created to help guide local governments and non-profits in New York State in search of federal, state, and third party financing for sustainable capital projects."

At the Federal level, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s Center for Environmental Finance "assists the public and private sectors in their search for creative approaches to funding environmental programs and acquiring the tools and resources they need to meet environmental requirements[2].

A comprehensive, municipal organics management system - at small and large scales - will require leveraging many available financial resources with the ultimate goal of funding through self-sustaining, non-grant-reliant means.

Specific Recommendations:
  • Pursue funding opportunities to defray implementation costs of a new program and facility, including available federal, state, and private grants and loans.
  • Apply savings from decreased landfill tipping expenses towards building infrastructure for recycling organics.
  • Research markets for sale of finished compost and biogas
  • Consider creative financing options such as negotiating with current recycling transfer operator

3.6.1 // Funding Opportunities through Grants and Loans

There are numerous federal, state, and private funding opportunities available. Many local organizations can serve as technical assistance resources. Grants are available for all aspects of sustainable materials management. As recommended, updating and pursuing these opportunities would be one duty of the Recycling and Composting Coordinator. Organics materials management projects are elligible for grants in many categories, including, but not limited to: land use, economic development, environmental conservation, and general sustainability.

Examples are listed below for some of the more well-known granting organizations. It would be impossible to present an all-inclusive list here, as funding opportunities change and many grants have scheduled cycles.


New York State Energy Resource and Development Agency (NYSERDA)
Existing Facilities Program (**PON 1219**)

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's (NYSERDA) Existing Facilities Program offers incentives for a variety of energy projects including Pre-Qualified Measures and Performance-Based Incentives.

Upcoming Facilities Program (PON 2631)

Behavior Research & Energy Decision Making

The object of this solicitation is to conduct a series of pilot studies designed to take advantage of predictable patterns of thinking and behavior to increase customer participation in clean energy programs and achieve greater energy savings than traditional information and incentive-based programs.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC)
Improving quality of life in New York's communities
The Department of State’s Brownfield Opportunity Areas (BOA) Program provides communities with guidance, expertise and financial assistance, up to 90 percent of the total eligible project costs, to complete revitalization and implementation strategies for neighborhoods or areas affected by brownfields or economic distress. Brownfields are dormant properties where contamination or perceived contamination has impeded investment and redevelopment, making them an economic and environmental drain on localities. Through the BOA Program, brownfields are transformed from liabilities to community assets that generate businesses, jobs and revenues for local economies and provide new housing and public amenities.[3]

Overview of the WQIP Program
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) supports water quality improvements through the Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) Statewide Grant Program. The WQIP program is a competitive, reimbursement grant program that directs funds from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund to projects that reduce polluted runoff, improve water quality and restore habitat in New York's waterbodies. Eligible applicants for the WQIP program include Municipalities (villages, towns & cities), Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Not for Profit Corporations (in some cases)

Water Resources Development Act Funding Program

Funding Source: NY DEC, Army Corps of Engineers
Contact: Bureau of Water Resource Management, Division of Water
625 Broadway, Albany, NY

NYSAR School Recycling/Waste Reduction Program

Funding Source: NYSAR
Contact: NYSAR, Albany,NY

Municipal Waste Reduction and Recycling Program

Funding Source: NYS DEC
Contact: NYSDEC Bureau of Solid Waste, Reduction and Recycling
625 Broadway, Albany, NY

Municipal Landfill Gas Management Program

Funding Source: NYSDEC; info. as above
Funding Source: US EPA
Contact: US EPA Region2, ny,ny

Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) Grant

Funding Source: EPA
Contact: CARE Program


A Bridge Loan is a loan for a short-term period, usually two weeks to three years, until long-term financing can be arranged or an obligation is removed.

A Revolving Loan Fund is a gap financing measure primarily used for development and expansion of businesses. It is a self-replenishing pool of money, utilizing interest and principal payments on old loans to issue new ones.

The Solid Waste Technical Committee of The Capital Region Sustainability Plan recommends establishing a revolving loan fund to bridge recycling expenses as one of four high-priority initiatives.

Other loan opportunities currently exist from federal and state agencies. For example, the EPA administers a Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Grant program providing funding to a grant recipient to capitalize a revolving loan fund that provides loans and subgrants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfields sites[4].

Via the Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region:
  • Energy efficiency loans are available to both nonprofits and small businesses, saving energy costs and the environment. This program is offered in partnership with NYSERDA - when resources allow.
  • Participation loans with many areas banks and credit unions are available, to both nonprofits and small businesses, for projects that exceed our loan limits. The Community Loan Fund can help package appropriate financing.

Many projects in various states and communities are partially funded with federal grants with a requirement for matching funds.

As a definition, a matching grant is when a funder offers a certain amount toward a project or general operations, on the condition that the same amount (or more, or half, or whatever the declared amount is) also be raised from other sources.
A matching grant can really help raise more money and "leverage" the grant
to encourage donors to give and contribute. Donors respond to matches if one can help them see that their donation is actually carrying more value.

Municipal Waste Reduction and Recycling Program (MWR&R):

Capital Projects - DEC is authorized to provide State assistance for projects that enhance municipal recycling infrastructure through purchasing of equipment or construction of facilities. Some communities used funding to construct materials recycling facilities or state-of-the-art composting facilities. Other communities have been able to purchase recycling containers and new recycling vehicles with their MWR&R funding.

Recycling Coordinators - DEC is authorized to provide State assistance for Recycling Coordinator salaries and for public education programs conducted by municipalities. This funding can help expand local recycling and waste reduction programs and increase participation.

3.6.2 // Savings from Increased Landfill Diversion

The CWG-C recommends closely tracking savings from increased landfill diversion (ex. increased recycling participation) to create continual funding for building infrastructure and facilities to capture the valued resources from composting. As shown in Table 1.1, recyclable materials via Troy's single-stream collection system represent the largest portion of the waste stream. By diverting larger percentages of recyclable material from the landfill to the Port of Albany Recycling facility, the City of Troy could save up to $555,321[5]. The City will not be able to save that amount entirely from tipping fees as increased recycling rates will also mean possible increases in collection and transportation costs that represent a greater shift towards diversion.

Compostable organic material represents the second largest portion of Troy's waste stream, including yard waste and food scraps. Diverting organic materials from the landfills could save Troy up to an estimated $303,457[6]. Savings from increased diversion via recycling and composting can be used to create positions to: enforce Troy's mandatory recycling law, educate residents and businesses on landfill diversion methods, and staff a centralized facility. In other words, increased recycling and composting creates sustainable jobs. Hiring locally will provide an economic boost to the City of Troy as well as increase education around solid waste management as more residents work with or live near sites and programs related to better materials management.

3.6.3 // Potential Markets/Revenue for Compost and Biogas

Diverting organics to a processing facility that produces salable compost presents an opportunity for a revenue stream for the City. A facility that is licensed for processing organics at commercial scales can also produce mulch and topsoil from yard waste - an important feedstock source for compost. Mulch and topsoil are also products in high demand by landscapers, facilities managers, gardeners, farmers, etc. These products are growing in demand as the practice of backyard and urban agriculture increase. Healthy soil is essential in growing healthy communities-- to remediate contaminated sites as well as provide nutrient-rich environments for growing food.

The Ulster County Business plan discusses the profit potential of composting:

Compost is becoming a profitable commodity. In the last three decades there has been a slow, but steady move towards sustainable agricultural methods. Organic produce is one of the fastest growing markets in the United States today with sales increasing by 20% annually. One requirement of certified organic growing is the use of natural fertilizers and compost. As the sale of organic goods increases, the demand for compost will likewise increase. Moreover, the USDA has ruled that organic farms may no longer use biosolid-based compost if they wish to retain their organic certification. This means a greater demand for compost.

Compost is also gaining popularity with the horticulture industry. It makes a great amendment to potting soils and can inhibit plant diseases. More and more commercial growers are amending their crop soils with compost. Furthermore, composting has a value beyond that as a commodity. Composting can be an integral part of a farm’s nutrient management program, and the product can be used to amend the farmer’s own soil. Composting converts nutrients into forms that don’t leach, kills weed seeds and pathogens (like fecal coliform), makes nutrients more available to plants, and may increase plant health. It also reduces the volume of material by as much as two-thirds, and it can be spread year-round.

Finally, the EPA has concluded that composting can reduce nonpoint source pollution of our waterways and reduce nutrient loading. The need for compost is real, the potential for growth in the market is large, and the means to composting are available. While composting is fairly simple; successful marketing requires forethought, creativity and a lot of work. Success in the compost business is not easy (and rarely quick), but the rewards are a cleaner and safer environment; the means to better manage food waste and the ability to augment revenue for the City.[7]

3.6.4 // Creative Financial Solutions

There are always creative options for financing programs and infrastructure. These options can appear spontaneously or with strategic planning, and new opportunities appear with changing technologies and culture. Some creative options according to what has been done locally or is available now include:
  • Negotiate with Waste Connections, the commercial transfer operator that handles Troy's recycling. Waste Connections profits from the sale of Troy's non-organic recyclable materials. Measurable increases in the City's recycling rate will increase Waste Connections' revenue. Waste Connections has a vested interest in increased landfill diversion, and therefore may be willing to help finance efforts to increase the recycling rate. The current contract with Waste Connections expires in 2014.
  • Watervliet's curbside organics collection program uses a pick-up truck confiscated from a drug conviction
  • Artists built Great Barrington, MA's public recycling bins from found materials
  • Crowd-sourced platforms can be utilized for specific infrastructure needs (Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, RocketHub, etc.)


Jeff Edwards, Planner/Recycling Coordinator, Schenectady County Dept. of Economic Development & Planning,, (518) 386-2225 x224

Amanda Westerdahl, Education Program Manager, Environmental Finance Center,, (315) 443-1846

Don Halleck, Waste Connections, (518)-877-7007

[1] Available at
[2] For more info see
[3] For more information, see
[4] EPA Proposal Guidelines for Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup grants at: brownfields/applicat.htm
[5] See Table 1.1; Estimate based on product of estimated recycleable content of Troy waste stream and a $60/ton tipping fee.
[6] See Table 1.1; Estimate based on product of estimated compostable content of Troy waste stream and a $60/ton tipping fee.
[7] "Food Waste Composting Pilot Project," Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency, accessed January 12, 2013,