Temporary Suspension of Food Waste Program


Curbside Organic Program Participants,

The past year has been a series of highs and lows for Princeton's Curbside Organic Waste Program. Princeton became a Champion City in the Mayor's Challenge sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies. As a finalist in the competition, we were able to explore how Princeton could tackle the food waste challenge using behavioral science interventions to reduce and improve the quality of organic waste streams and create a decentralized food waste reclamation process for local use. In the end, we were not awarded the final grant that would finance our concept, but the process provided us with valuable insight and data.

This year also illustrated the difficulties in managing a food waste program. Our participants experienced service disruptions as our solid waste contractor consistently failed to make timely required pickups. They also failed to secure a proper home for the food waste, sending it at times to a local incinerator.

Compounding these operational issues, our food waste stream contained unacceptable levels of contamination from time to time.  In hose instances, the farm rejected our food waste and it ended up in a landfill.

Recently,the municipality sought bids from contractors to provide our food waste hauling and disposal needs for the next two years. The sole acceptable bid came from our current hauler at more than double the existing price. As a result, the program's cost to participants and the municipality would double with no guarantee that pick-up service will improve or that our food waste won’t be incinerated or landfilled.

One thing that the Bloomberg experience has taught us is that we must not be afraid of setbacks. Instead, they provide us with an opportunity to take a new look at a project and learn from what we have done in the past.

As a result, we believe it is in our best interest to temporarily suspend the curbside food waste program as we work to re-invent the program. The last pick up will be on Wednesday, January 30. Over the next three months, the Municipality intends to embark on a process of re-evaluating how we provide this service. This evaluation will include seeking bids from local farms to take our waste materials and determine if municipal staff can provide the hauling services. By evaluating this alternative along with others, we plan to bring the program back stronger than ever.

This is an important program and we are committed to taking the steps to make it successful. We ask our current participants to stay engaged with us while we develop the right solution for Princeton. We also ask participants to retain their existing organics containers until the 2019 registration is released.

Reminder:  Organic curbside pickup will continue until the end of January 2019. (Last pick up will be Wednesday, January 30.)


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