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Food Waste Composting

Did you know about 15% of Onondaga County’s waste stream is food waste? That's over 35,000 tons!


Local businesses and institutions are reducing the trash they have to pay to dispose of, and creating a valuable resource, by sending their food scraps to OCRRA to be composted.


Composting Process


In 2007, the Amboy Compost Site became a pilot location for a food waste composting project. Pre-consumer food wastes from the New York State Fair and other area zero waste events in the County were collected for processing in our windrow system at the Amboy Compost Site.

In 2008, OCRRA converted from windrow composting to extended aerated static pile composting to improve efficiency. Today this process is utilized at both the Amboy and Jamesville Compost Sites. (Food waste is only processed at the Amboy Site.)


Amboy Compost Site Aerated Static Pile SystemDue to the success of the pilot project, OCRRA upgraded its food waste composting facility at the Amboy Compost Site, to optimize recycling and reuse opportunities.

Over 9,000 tons of institutional and commercial food waste will be processed annually; the material would otherwise require disposal and potentially contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. The project serves as an environmentally sound, cost-effective model for replication by municipalities across New York State, and will ultimately generate some 30,000 cubic yards of compost annually.

Environmental benefits:

  • Creates a new product (compost) out of materials that are typically treated as waste (food scraps), 
  • Increases process and stormwater controls, and 
  • Increases compost use in our community, which leads to healthier soil and plants, better nutrient cycling, greater fertility, and aids in erosion control and overall stormwater management.

Stormwater management benefits are two-fold:

1) All stormwater impacted by the composting facility’s operation is managed on-site or treated through off-site drainage via an engineered wetland consisting of pretreatment forebays, shallow emergent marshland, and deep water pools. 

2) Compost generated at the site can be utilized at area construction projects to reduce soil erosion, prevent pollution and control stormwater runoff, and serve as a soil amendment for “Low Impact Development” projects aimed at promoting long-term, sustainable stormwater management.



At the Amboy Compost Site, food waste is mixed in a 3:1 ratio with a bulking agent (yard waste and wood chips). Then it is arranged in 20' x 100' long concrete bunkers that have a system of pipes running beneath them. The pipes are powered by electric blowers that pump air through the piles at scheduled intervals. The pipes allow air to circulate through the piles and create optimal conditions for decomposition.

After the food waste has decomposed and has met all of the temperature and monitoring requirements, the finished compost is screened for use as a soil amendment and sold to the community



Find out how much it costs to drop off materials at the Amboy Compost Site.

Purchase some of that nutrient-rich, USCC STA tested compost OCRRA makes!


USCC Testing

OCRRA's compost is USCC STA tested, which means that all OCRRA compost is a high-quality material that will be consistent from batch to batch. The guarantees that our compost has been laboratory tested by a third party and meets all USCC, DEC and EPA criteria.


OCRRA’s composting process generates enough heat to make virtually weed, seed and plant born pathogen-free compost. Check out our most recent test results.

Residents and businesses can purchase this nutrient-rich material and use it as a soil amendment or top-dressing for lawns and turf.

Benefits of Food Waste Diversion

  • Reduces your trash volume, which reduces what you pay to dispose of it through your hauler,
  • Costs less to dispose of food waste through OCRRA's Compost Program than it does to dispose of it as trash (about half as much),
  • Lets your customers know you are an environmentally responsible establishment, and
  • Produces a nutrient-rich resource called compost, which has many environmental benefits.

How to Divert Your Food Waste

Food at SUDiverting or collecting food waste is easy. All you need to do is let your employees know what items are acceptable. Then place collection containers (pails) in the food preparation areas for employees to fill.

Many local businesses are already reaping the benefits of food waste diversion and composting. For example, Syracuse University is composting food waste from their dining halls in order to achieve their sustainability goals. After just one semester of collection, SU diverted some 30 tons of food waste and they are still going strong! Periodic reminders, whether through meetings or simply posting the list of acceptable items near the collection containers will help people remember what goes where.

Call OCRRA at (315) 453-2866 or email us and we'll help you set up a food waste collection program that works for your employees, customers and waste hauler.

 Local Environmental Leaders

OCRRA salutes the local businesses and schools that are leading the environmental pack by composting their food scraps with OCRRA:

• Crouse Hospital

• Destiny USA (25+ food service locations)

• Empire Brewing Company

• Jordan-Elbridge School District

• Le Moyne College

• Marcellus Central School District

• Onondaga Community College

• Pastabilities Restaurant

• Paul deLima Coffee

• Ramada Inn

• Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel & Conference Center

• SUNY Upstate at Community General Hospital

• SUNY Upstate University Hospital

• Syracuse Banana

• Syracuse University

• The Centers at St. Camillus

• The Oncenter

• Wegmans (8 CNY stores)

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