Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

OCRRA Unveils New Food Waste Recycling Facility

The pizza crust or potato peel leftover from your meal at places like the OnCenter or Destiny USA restaurants ends up at a facility in Camillus that turns it into garden compost.  The Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency unveiled its Amboy food scrap composting facility on Thursday, which is  the largest in the state.  Spokesperson Kristin Lawton says haulers deliver the scraps, which enter a very specialized recycling process:

The Amboy facility has the capacity to recycle over 9,600 tons of institutional and commercial food scraps each year, instead of throwing that material out as trash. This should yield roughly 36,000 cubic yards of nutrient-rich compost.

Additionally, OCRRA says composting food waste instead of putting that same material in the trash could save as much as $44 per ton of waste. To put that into perspective, Syracuse University diverted roughly 400 tons of food waste in 2012, saving over $15,000 in disposal fees.

SU was one of the early adopters of OCRRA's program, but other participants include Empire Brewing Company, Marcellus School District, Paul deLima Coffee, Ramada Inn, Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center, the Centers at St. Camillus, Upstate University Hospital, and numerous restaurants at Destiny USA. 

Area businesses are just the start of that increased community concern for sustainability and recycling. Amboy Site Operator Tom Ferguson predicts growth as word spreads about the facility and its methods:

Site Operator Tom Ferguson predicts a bright future for Amboy and other recycling facilities like it.

Ferguson is hopeful that the Amboy Facility can one day serve as an official training ground - offering accreditation programs for other certified compost site operators - for other areas looking to expand their composting capabilities.  Plus, he says, “This is one fantastic product. If you’ve ever used it,  it’s phenomenal… Try this once on your garden, you’re hooked, you’re always coming back for it!”

The high-quality mulch made from the food scraps and yard waste is sold in bulk at the compost site, and is also available in bags at a handful of local garden stores.  

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at
Hannah vividly remembers pulling up in the driveway with her mom as a child and sitting in the car as it idled with the radio on, listening to Ira Glass finish his thought on This American Life. When he reached a transition, it was a wild race out of the car and into the house to flip on the story again and keep listening. Hannah’s love of radio reporting has stuck with her ever since.