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2017 Federation Conference: Creative community-based solutions for organics recycling in NYC

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In late 2016, we submitted abstract to the WNYS Federation Conference when a colleague at the Department of Environmental Conservation suggested we do so. On a whim, we sent off a strong abstract proposal without expecting to hear a positive response. In January we received confirmation as a speaker for this year’s conference. Very surprised, fully excited, and incredibly appreciative for this opportunity to discuss WeRadiate initiatives with peers! Our abstract proposal placed us within the Organics Speaking Track with colleagues from upstate NY (Tompkins County & Town of Bethlehem).

At 20 minutes, this was the longest time offered to speak on behalf of WeRadiate. The pressure was palpable. The requirement to offer detailed insights of our initiatives with clarity, interest, and strong visuals was a focus. As we prepared for the session, we collaborated and spoke with fellow presenters and moderator to ensure success within the presentations.

The conference was located in the scenic and historic site called The Sagamore located in Lake George. The conference attendees include the 3 main rcycling organizations across NYS: NYSAR3, SWANA, and NYSASWM with hundreds of officials across local municipalities and private business. Lots of individuals with different backgrounds attended the event – engineers, lawyers, students, and of course recycling professionals. It was highly organized with networking opportunities scattered across the 3-day conference.

Day 1: Compost Marketing – The Sustainable Solution. The Cornell Cooperative Extension session was fascinating as they held a hands-on compost demonstration of various soil types in trays. Each tray was different containing only cover crops, or grasses, or full compost with organic matter, or poor soil. This demonstration is to visually display how compost can absorb run-off, retain moisture, and support the refill of our water table. Really incredible to see this being played out with examples of “rainfall” on these trays.

Day 2: City Mouse/ Country Mouse Compost. Our session was well attended with leaders across the state enjoying the presentations. We received lots of praise with the presentation as it provided details of ThermoSense, Infographic, and Vertical Compost System. The highlight was when the Director of GrowNYC attended and became interested with our Vertical Compost System; he believes this concept can be a practical way to increase local compost capacity across NYC! Coolness!

With the conference winding down for Day 3. We connected with several recycling entrepreneurs and pursued insightful informational interviews with all these colleagues. Those that I reached out were more than willing to provide insights and support for WeRadiate as it continues to evolve with forward progress. Thank you to Recycling Works President, Bill Dempsey and Jonathan Bell, Casella Waste Systems Inc.

Submitted Abstract:
Creative community-based solutions for organics recycling in NYC

This presentation will discuss hyper-local compost initiatives within New York City that support education, community engagement, and local capacity.

A spatial mapping visual will be displayed to discuss the amount of vacant lots across NYC and showcasing the potential capacity to divert thousands of tons of organic food scraps within the confines of community compost systems, gardens, and public areas. This infographic utilizes current research and policy directives from the NYC Department of Sanitation and Mayor’s Office.
A mobile technology initiative will be demonstrated to support real-time compost monitoring of important site metrics. This device can support educational engagement across various compost systems at both the small and medium-scale levels across NYC. Real-time data has the potential to increase compost efficiency and capacity. This tool serves a purpose to galvanize interest across a variety of stakeholders including municipal authorities, schools, and compost leaders.
Furthermore, to support local composting capacity, a pilot project of a 2-bin vertical compost system prototype has been developed. This unique open-source model can support the collection and processing of food scraps within the tight confines of a NYC landscape. Since New Yorkers live and garden vertically, developing methods to compost vertically are ongoing.