Curbside Compost strives to recover region’s food scraps: ‘Wasted food is a thing of the past’

RIDGEFIELD — With the problem of food waste growing, a local company looks to make it easier to compost.

Curbside Compost — founded by Ridgefielder Nick Skeadas — composts food waste for their subscribers. It’s an issue Skeadas has tried to raise awareness for.

Before the new year, the company invited fellow environmental groups to take a private tour of New Milford Farms and its on-site composting facility.

The plant serves as a key processing facility for Curbside’s clients’ food scraps and other organic material in the area. Here, compost is produced in long rows, or windrows, by layering food scraps with organic matter and biodegradable waste. Skeadas said the tour was intended to educate visitors on what the solution to Connecticut’s food waste problem can look like.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans waste $161 billion in food every year, which equates to about $500 a person. Food waste makes up 30 percent of Connecticut’s waste stream alone.

As a “resource recovery company,” Skeadas said, Curbside offers its customers a way to compost food scraps without the mess.

“We specialize in the infrastructure and transportation of food scraps, (helping) close to a million people in Fairfield and Westchester counties,” he added.

Subscribers to the service receive a small, cylindrical “pail” for the disposal of organic waste like potato peels, apple cores, even meat and bones. The company picks up the full pails and swaps them with empty ones on a weekly basis. The decaying material is then taken to composting facilities within the region to begin the six-to-eight month process of breaking down into fine, nutrient-rich soil.

Selling this soil back to local farmers and gardeners is more sustainable than using chemical fertilizers, Skeadas explained. Subscriptions are $32 monthly and $352 yearly.

Commercial connections

Curbside Compost currently services the following municipal drop-off locations:

Ridgefield Transfer Station

Redding Transfer Station

New Fairfield Transfer Station

New Canaan Transfer Station

Westport Transfer Station

City of Norwalk Transfer Station + Rowayton Community Center

Greenwich Transfer Station + drop offs in Old Greenwich and Backcountry Greenwich

Salisbury Sharon Transfer Station

Litchfield Transfer Station

Stamford Transfer Station

Beyond its residential program, Curbside also picks up compostables from commercial entities like the Ridgefield Recycling Center — but that’s expected to change.

In October, the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority was awarded a more than $72,000 grant from the USDA to help manage food waste locally and establish a closed-loop composting system at the center.

The project will increase access to compost for residents, garden groups and local farmers, eliminating the need for synthetic fertilizers and further reducing the carbon footprint. The HRRA is waiting on permits to begin construction, but hopes to have the system “up and running” by Feb. 1, Executive Director Jennifer Heaton-Jones said.

“We don’t have enough landfill capacity because they’ve all closed, and we don’t have enough waste-to-energy plants because they are dying,” she said in an earlier interview. “This is a solution.”

Skeadas said other municipalities should use the system as a model to address food waste locally.

“It makes it more affordable (for us) and reduces the amount of CO2 and diesel we burn … which is exactly what we want,” he said. “(When) people have options, wasted food is a thing of the past.”

For more information about Curbside Compost, click here.

Peter Yankowski contributed to this story.