HARRISBURG – Gov. Edward G. Rendell said today Pennsylvania is seeking creative and profitable ways to reduce the amount of organic waste going to landfills, while encouraging businesses to increase the use of composted organic materials in finished products.
In Centre County, Tait Farm Foods Inc. received $55,560 for equipment that will allow this community supported agriculture farm to receive additional leaf and yard waste from Harris Township and food waste from food manufacturers, restaurants and residences. Tait Farms will compost an additional 200 tons of organic waste annually.
In Jefferson County, Quiet Creek Herb Farm & School of Country Living Inc. received $17,662 for equipment to start on-site vermicomposting at a local restaurant. Vermicomposting uses worms to compost food waste into nutrient-rich soil amendments. The nonprofit group expects to compost 168 cubic yards of organic materials annually.
“About one-third of what goes into our landfills is organic waste, such as grass clippings, leaves and food scraps,” said Rendell as he announced nearly $366,000 in strategic state investments to six organizations across the state.
“The businesses and nonprofit groups receiving these grants can take these materials and process them into garden mulch, soil amendments and other products for sale. This is a good example of how we can create new opportunities for businesses as we protect our environment and help our communities.
“Our partners win by increasing their sales, Pennsylvania wins by delaying the need to expand its landfills, and local governments win by not having to pay for disposal of the leaves and brush they collect,” he said.
The funding Governor Rendell announced today is from the Compost Infrastructure Development Grant Program and helps for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations incorporate organic materials into manufactured products. It also increases the amount of organic material processed at composting facilities.
The grants, which can go up to $100,000 for each project, are leveraged to attract additional investment from private entities and community organizations. This year’s recipients will invest more than $91,000 additionally to support these projects.
Composting is a natural process that accelerates the decomposition process for organic waste. Microorganisms break down organic materials, such as leaves, grass and vegetable scraps, to form a nutrient-rich soil enhancement called compost, or humus. Finished compost adds nutrients to the soil and improves moisture retention.
“Working with industry and nonprofit groups, Pennsylvania is finding new ways to benefit the environment and the economy,” said Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty. “Using these organic materials in beneficial products can delay the need to develop new landfill capacity. Finding businesses to accept the organic wastes helps local governments and businesses reduce their disposal costs.”
Pennsylvanians recycled a record 4.86 million tons of municipal waste in 2005, saving consumers and industries nearly $263 million in waste disposal costs and providing businesses with materials valued at $577 million.
Pennsylvania’s recycling and reuse industry leads northeastern states in employment, payroll and sales. More than 3,200 recycling and reuse businesses and organizations made $18.4 billion in gross annual sales, paid $305 million in taxes and provided jobs for 81,322 employees at an annual payroll of approximately $2.9 billion.
Pennsylvania’s recycling efforts save energy, reduce air pollution and limit the need for virgin materials in manufacturing.
Reducing the demand for energy by helping consumers conserve is a key part of Governor Rendell’s Energy Independence Strategy. By lowering energy demands and investing in smart conservation measures first, Pennsylvania can reduce its consumption of foreign oil, avoid building expensive new power plants that rely on dirty fossil fuels and emit harmful air pollutants, and create up to 13,000 new jobs.