Eco-conscious restaurant owners with the idea of converting food waste into compost received a $1,000 check from the Sierra Club on Tuesday to expand its program, allowing more restaurants to participate in the program.
Josh Chamberlain, founder and executive director of Go Green OC, and Garvey Heiderman, director of composting operations and owner of The Hobbit restaurant on 81st Street accepted the check while outlining the future of their program.
“Four years ago, Garvey and I began what seemed like an impossible task: the foundation of a citywide composting program here in Ocean City,” Chamberlain said at a conference. press at the Heiderman restaurant. “Since inception, the incredible program has diverted nearly 100,000 pounds of food waste, and it all started here at The Hobbit restaurant.”
Chamberlain said that over the past year, nearly 40 restaurants have expressed interest in composting, and over the past six months many people from across the country have asked questions about composting efforts.
“Word is definitely spreading about our efforts,” he said.
The idea is to take food waste from restaurants and convert it into usable compost instead of sending it to Covanta, a waste-to-energy incineration operation in Pennsylvania.
Compost is made up of three key ingredients: browns — dead leaves, twigs, branches; greens – grass clippings, vegetable waste and coffee grounds; and water.
Not only does it have excellent agricultural benefits, but it is also phenomenal at preventing runoff, as it has great moisture retention.
Heiderman told Ocean City Council members last November that a four-week pilot program in 2018 resulted in nearly 2,000 pounds of food waste, with each dinner party generating 1.23 pounds of food waste.
The pilot program was expanded with the support of City Council members and involved five restaurants: The Hobbit Restaurant, The Bonfire Restaurant at 70th Street, Dough Roller at 70th Street, Real Raw Organics at 34th Street, and Annabelle’s BBQ and Creamery at 64th Street. .
Go Green OC’s goal for 2022 is to divert nearly 250 tons of food waste from the garbage stream, or the equivalent of 500,000 pounds.
With more food waste diversion planned, Chamberlain and Heiderman plan to ramp up operations.
“We purchased a box truck this year that will allow us to haul materials,” Heiderman said.
He also said more restaurants were being added to the mix.
Starting this year, Bayside Skillet at 70th Street, Mother’s Cantina at 28th and 78th Streets, Longboard Cafe at 67th Street, Macky’s at 53rd Street and Fish Tales at 21st Street will join the program to help Go Green OC to meet its goal of diverting 500,000 pounds of food from the creek.
In addition to the new restaurants, the association plans to deploy collection receptacles for pizza boxes, which cannot be recycled but can be transformed into compost.
“None of this would be possible without the support of Ocean City, which greenlighted the pilot program last year,” Chamberlain said. “The city now pays Ocean Compost by the ton to dispose of food waste.”
Councilman Peter Buas praised the program’s goal of converting food waste into compost.
“It’s a win-win situation for everyone,” he said.
In addition to the pizza box and new restaurants, Go Green OC produced a two and a half minute training video in 10 different languages to demonstrate how the program works.