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Downtown Cleveland pilots group composting

Marc Lefkowitz  |  10/14/09 @ 4:14pm

Some of Cleveland's largest companies and sports teams are ready to close the loop on their food waste. Forest City and Quicken Loans Arena are the driving force behind seven for- and non-profit groups participating in Cleveland's first district-wide food waste composting pilot program.

Within a month, Landmark Disposal will run a route to pick up food waste from the kitchens of The U.S. Government Services Administration, Constantino's Market Restaurant on W. 9th Street, Aramark-the food service company at The Q, URS Corp., Tower City, Eaton Corporation and Cuyahoga Community College.

Landmark will supply each with 90-gallon trash containers or 'toters' to collect vegetable, fruit, even meat scraps. Landmark, a Cleveland company with annual revenues of $5-10 million, will haul loads 31 miles from downtown Cleveland to Sagamore Soils in Hudson, where they have a yard to turn food waste into compost. Both companies are providing pro bono services in the hope that the two-week pilot becomes a paid route (Sagamore Soils will make back some of its investment by selling the compost to the public). Landmark and Sagamore are currently under contract with Whole Foods for food waste hauling and composting.

"A lot of us were interested in zero waste, but we kept running into roadblocks on how to do this," explains Jessica Jacobson with Aramark at The Q where participants in the pilot project met last night. "We provide the high volume of food waste, and that helps establish a route that includes the smaller producers."

Mark Frank at Landmark offered to expand the number of companies participating if they are located between W. 25th and E. 25th streets and as far south as Woodland Avenue. To inquire about participating in the pilot, email Frank or Jacobson.

Todd Argust of the Cleveland Browns, which launched its own food waste composting program last month, reminded participants of why they're doing this.

"Composting is saving us money," Argust said. "Before, we were sending our 80-yard compactor out three times during game week, now we don't have to send it out at all."

The Browns have a contract with Rosby's Greenhouse and Garden Center, which is providing the hauling to its composting facility in Independence. The Browns collect food waste from their commissary in 90-gallon toters lined with compostable bags. The toters can weigh as much as 600 pounds each, Argust says.

Beau Daane, business recycling specialist with the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District, helped coordinate the pilot project and reminded those involved to get approvals from company managers, and to figure out where the toters will be 'staged' for easy pickup.

Daane also explained that composting is good for the environment because it avoids potentially tons of food waste from entering landfills where they break down and produce methane, a greenhouse gas.

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