Food Scraps Recovery At Year-Round Resort

Jay Peak’s five restaurants have diverted over 74 tons of food scraps and soiled paper to an on-farm composting facility since April 2015.

Claire Siegrist and Athena Lee Bradley
BioCycle August 2016, Vol. 57, No. 7, p. 28
Black Dirt Farm uses a custom-built dump trailer (left) pulled by a 1-ton dump truck to collect and transport separated organics from Jay Peak and other generators it services.

Black Dirt Farm uses a custom-built dump trailer (left) pulled by a 1-ton dump truck to collect and transport separated organics from Jay Peak and other generators it services. Photos courtesy of Northeast Recycling Council

Jay Peak, a four-season resort in Jay, Vermont, attracts 300,000 annual visitors for skiing, snowboarding and other winter activities, as well as hiking, boating and a year-round indoor water park. The resort includes a variety of accommodations, a conference center, five full-service restaurants, a pizzeria, two coffee shops, four cafeterias, a market, deli and several pubs.

As part of its greening initiatives, Jay Peak has partnered with the Clear Water Carbon Fund to reduce its carbon footprint by planting trees along streams in Vermont, sources local food whenever possible, and diverts all fryer oil for conversion to biodiesel. The resort participates as a partner in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Challenge to more easily assess the costs and benefits of diverting food scraps and gain positive recognition. Recycling stations are located throughout the resort, and its food scraps collection program is up and running, in advance of compliance requirements under Act 148, Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law (see sidebar).

Pilot Testing

In late 2014, Black Dirt Farm in Greensboro Bend, Vermont, contacted Jay Peak about food scraps collection. Jenn Davis, Black Dirt Farm’s marketing and business development director, met with Jay Peak staff and conducted a walk-through waste assessment to determine the types of materials generated that are compostable, including common soiled paper items that would be accepted. It also estimated volume of materials that would be collected in a back-of-the-house pilot targeting preconsumer food prep scraps from three of the kitchens, as well as determine placement of collection carts in the kitchens and storage areas on docks for pickup. The initial pilot took place in the winter of 2014.

Due to the success of the pilot, Black Dirt Farm and the staff at Jay Peak agreed that it would be beneficial for the resort to move ahead with expansion of the pilot to include all five of the resort’s full service restaurants, both back-of-the-house and front-of-the-house, collecting both preconsumer and postconsumer food scraps.

In March 2015, under the direction of Dan Higgins, lead Chef at Alice’s Table (a full-service restaurant at the resort) and Chris Clements, Director of Food and Beverage, Jay Peak made preparations to scale up the pilot program. Davis contacted Athena Lee Bradley with the Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) to help expand the pilot. NERC received a two-year, $25,000 grant from the EPA’s New England office (Region 1) in October 2014 to provide technical assistance to restaurants in Vermont to implement food scraps diversion and promote EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge. Through the grant, NERC has been able to provide technical assistance to Jay Peak.

Full-Scale Implementation

In early April, NERC and Black Dirt Farm provided a one day food scraps collection training to chefs and kitchen staff from the resort’s five primary full service restaurants and food service kitchens. The training provided a review of the organic materials accepted — all food scraps and some noncoated paper — and logistics of food scraps collection.

The collection program was integrated into employees’ daily activities. Black Dirt Farm provides 32- and 48-gallon green carts on wheels so waiters and waitresses can more efficiently scrape food scraps off diners’ plates. This method allows for high quality separated organics with minimal contamination. Carts or smaller buckets have been placed in all five kitchens for back-of-house food prep scraps. When carts fill up, employees spread a layer of sawdust over the top of the scraps to control odor and fruit flies and swap the full cart for an empty one. (Sawdust is provided by Black Dirt Farm.) Full carts are stored on designated loading docks for weekly collection. Compostable bags are not used, as they are not a permissible feedstock under the organic certification requirements of Tamarlane Farm, the composting site. The carts are rinsed onsite by the driver with a hot water pressure washer each time they are serviced.

All of Jay Peak’s food scraps are delivered directly to Tamarlane Farm in Lyndonville (about 40 miles away), which composts them with dairy and heifer manure and wood chips. The Farm produces more than 400 tons of compost annually for local sales and on-farm use for hay and vegetable production.

Since the start of the program in April 2015, Jay Peak’s five restaurants have diverted over 74 tons of pre and postconsumer food scraps and soiled paper. Tonnage varies from July with 4.6 tons to February with 8.1 tons. A reduction of 3.4 tons of greenhouse gas emission equivalent has been achieved since the start of the program.

Plans For Expansion

With NERC’s help, Jay Peak plans to phase in source separation of food scraps at its remaining venues, as well as at special events and eventually its cottages and condominiums. The resort’s initial foray into food scraps collection in public areas and at catered events in January 2016 was placed on hold due to contamination issues. Implementation of organics separation in public areas and cafeterias will require consistent signage, ongoing public outreach, and active collection station monitoring. Due to Jay Peak’s close proximity to Quebec, Canada, all signage and outreach needs to be done in both English and French.

The resort is in the process of designing new recycling, composting and trash stations for placement in its cafeteria and public space venues. Jay Peak had previously switched to primarily certified compostable paper and plastic service ware in its cafeterias. Onsite meetings with Jay Peak administrators are held to discuss ongoing employee training, signage and container options, and suggested steps for successful implementation.

Athena Lee Bradley is with the Northeast Recycling Council (NERC), a multistate nonprofit committed to environmental and economic sustainability through responsible solid waste management. Claire Siegrist is a Contributing Editor to BioCycle.

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