In its section on Solid Waste, the Capital Region Sustainability Plan (CRSP) identifies improving and increasing composting options as a top priority initiative.[1] The CWG-C agrees with this conclusion and recommends that Troy phase in food scraps collection at the institutional, commercial, and residential scales.

Specific Recommendations

  • Publicize a pilot program, to be launched in Spring 2013, in the dining halls at RPI, and encourage expansion to other institutions. Track and use the data for capacity projections for municipal facility.
  • Implement a pilot curbside pickup program for separated organic waste
  • Consider requiring private haulers operating within the city to have viable, separated organic and non-organic recycling options in order to obtain permits.

3.7.1 // RPI Pilot and other Institutional Routes

Food Services at RPI is currently working to implement separation of pre-consumed food scraps at four dining halls. Jackie Baldwin, RPI's Executive Chef through Sodexo, is negotiating with university administration to cover hauling expenses to the Schenectady Soil and Water Conservation District’s Composting facility via an independent, local hauler. The CWG-C recommends that the City publicize the RPI pilot program as part of the push for commercial composting in Troy. RPI has long been a highly visible institution in Troy, and a composting system at RPI could pave the way for other institutions to begin composting food scraps by developing carting routes and source separation protocols.

Composting at schools and hospitals is not uncommon in this region; Union College, Schenectady County Community College, and Ellis Hospital currently collect food scraps for delivery to the Schenectady County Composting Facility. Vassar College partners with McEnroe Farms for food scraps composting.

There is interest at RPI to work towards a sustainable practice for organic material through a more closed-loop method of composting on-site (or within the city) for use on campus. St. John's University, in the Bronx, NY, provides a model of on-campus collection of food scraps, composting, and use of finished compost in campus gardens and landscaping. Skidmore College in Saratoga also piloted a student-run program of collecting food scraps from student apartment complexes for composting and use in the campus garden.

3.7.2 Pilot Curbside Program

Given the diversity of housing in Troy - in that all residents do not have access to space for backyard composting, the desire to self-manage organics, nor the physical capacity to compost - a comprehensive system must include options for all residents. The CWG-C recommends that the city begin a pilot curbside pickup program which could collect food scraps from interested households in a geographically limited area and compost them at a local farm, the Schenectady County Compost and Recycling Facility, or a compost facility in Troy. By starting with a small pilot program, the City can more easily estimate the amount of food scraps that can be collected curbside, and learn to anticipate difficulties when scaling up food scrap collection. A small pilot program can also collect from households that are interested in curbside pickup, which will reduce the difficulties of noncompliance.

This pilot program could be structured after the Watervliet Organic Waste program (WOW), which started in January of 2012. In this program, 51 households were given a curbside bin, a kitchen catcher, and compostable liner bags, and asked to separate out pre-consumed food scraps for bi-weekly curbside pickup. In ten weeks of collection, the city diverted 2.88 tons of food scraps from landfills, saving the city $147 in tipping fees and removing the equivalent of nearly 7 cars' worth of greenhouse gases. The program was so successful that it was turned from pilot program into a permanent program in July of 2012, and has set a goal of recruiting 50 additional residents per quarter[2]. A similar curbside program in Dubuque, Iowa, has collected compost from 250 households for the past six years[3].

Curbside pickup can start immediately with volunteer participation modeled after the successful pilot program in Watervliet. Additionally, there are currently efforts to engineer a system that uses bicycles to collect food scraps. (See info on Food Cycle in “Neighborhood Scale Composting” Section 3.5)

Figure 3.7.1: The Watervliet Organic Waste Program
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Picture 8.png

WOW Kits distributed to participants in the pilot program. Kits include compostable liner bags, kitchen counter container, curbside receptacle
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Picture 6.png
Vehicle used for WOW pickup.
WOW Compost Pile: Static Aeration at Hudson Shores Park.

3.7.3 Organic Hauling Options for Private Haulers

According to Troy city code 234-4 ("Permits for private haulers") permits are required for all commercial/private haulers within city limits: "no commercial hauler shall engage on a regular basis in the business of collecting, transporting, disposing of solid waste, and/or the recyclables generated within the City of Troy without obtaining a solid waste collection permit (SWCP)." The Commissioner to the Mayor issues commercial hauling permits upon approval of application and fee payment. To facilitate the implementation or expansion of organic and non-organic recycling in Troy the CWG-C recommends that the permit application for commercial hauling includes a demonstration of viable composting and recycling options for institutions with which haulers have or will pursue contracts. In doing so, the City can use the permitting process as a way to ensure recycling and composting options for commercial operations in Troy.[4] See More.....

  • Mark Gleason: General Manager/Commissioner of Public Works, Watervliet,, (518) 270-3800 ext. 122
  • Debbie Jackson: Environmental Program Specialist, NYSDEC,, (518) 402-8706
  • Denise Kolankowski: Senior Resource Educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension,, (518) 372-1622

[1] “Capital Region Sustainability Plan: Draft Plan Available for Review,” Cleaner Greener Communities Capital Region Consortium, last modified December 8, 2012,
[2] “Watervliet Organic Waste Report,” Office of the General Manager, accessed January 12, 2013,
[3] Paul Schultz, “Food Scrap and Organics Recycling.” City of Dubuque, accessed January 12, 2013,
[4] See New York DEC regulations on Waste Transporter Permits for more details: