Overview of active efforts
Overall goal – The overarching goal of the project is to improve and protect ocean health, by educating, inspiring and empowering the community to foster environmentally responsible behaviors, with an initial focus on residential and commercial composting in Newport County, Rhode Island. This brings together existing composting efforts into a sustainable model and integrated operations that will demonstrate the effectiveness, efficiency, and strategic benefit of diverting food scraps from our waste stream and increasing awareness of the connectivity of healthy soils and healthy seas.
Advance residential collections – Residents of Newport County are keenly aware that years of effort to address litter and marine debris issues are having a measurable impact with cleaner streets and healthier shorelines. At the same time, topics ranging from sea-level rise to climate change are sparking local interest for action. The diversion of food scraps from the waste stream is a behavior change that allows residents to reduce waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve soil health and brings awareness to the single-use and low-value materials, that are predominantly made of petrochemicals and end up in their garbage cans.
Advance commercial collections – Tipping fees for commercial waste at the landfill continues to rise and these fees are used in a complex algorithm to offset and establish multi-year fixed rates for municipal waste. With the Rhode Island landfill reaching capacity by 2034, it is very likely that tipping fees for commercial waste will continue to increase. By introducing food scrap diversion, which could account for 50% of commercial restaurant waste, this will introduce the value proposition and viability of commercial composting as a means for customers to start, continue, and expand food scrap diversion to lower their solid waste volume, overall savings for the business, and creating a healthier environment. Restaurants, Schools, Businesses, Events – The project team has decades of experience with environmental sustainability, zero waste management and technical services to transform your place into a zero waste environment to minimize landfill waste, maximize proper recycling, and diverting all food scraps for composting. Whether you are ready to start today or need some help getting started, we’re here for you, just sign up on this form and we will contact you.
Zero waste schools and events – Schools and events provide significant outreach potential to share the message and turn it into quantifiable action with the residents of Newport County and with visitors from the United States and around the world. Schools are in desperate need of transforming their waste footprint to demonstrate leadership to their students. By working with local schools, we’ve seen student led initiatives to expand recycling and eliminate foam trays from the cafeteria. Investing in the next generation (students) and educating the overall population (through events) are the main channels to expand the outreach of the project. The project has developed an extensive Zero Waste Education Initiative to help students and teachers adopt composting in their lunchroom by learning about it in their classrooms with in-depth lessons and guidance.
Local processing facility – Hauling fees for food scraps within the composting effort represent nearly 50% of the costs and increase carbon emissions. Decentralized composting facilities are a crucial component to the value chain and sustainability of composting for behavior changes to achieve the project goals. We are looking to advance and create new local processing facilities. By demonstrating the feasibility of urban composting, this will create an opportunity for expanded discussion with farms across the region and further reduce the needs for hauling and may eventually lower collection fees.
Resale and Reuse of Soil – Closing the loop for the circular economy means using the finished compost and selling it to be used for farming, gardening, and addressing storm water issues. Each time you put compost on the ground, it allows for increased vegetative growth that sequesters carbon from the atmosphere.
Education and Outreach – Our education and outreach activities are aligned with our community scientist efforts so that a hands-on student-led experience can have the greatest chance of fostering environmentally responsible behaviors and promoting stewardship in our community via action. For complete information about education and outreach opportunities, please visit our education page.
Analytics and Reporting – Data becomes information and information becomes knowledge that informs our decision making to improve ocean health with action on land. With results since 2019 we have amassed an insightful data set that empowers our organization. All of our data is available for the public and our annual Healthy Soils Healthy Seas Rhode Island Project report can be found on our reports page.
Advocacy – Our main goal is to bring about systemic change is to connect the community with the environment, educating, inspiring, and empowering to foster environmentally responsible behaviors. However, some forms of zero waste advancement require advocacy and policy. For complete information please visit our advocacy action page.
Map of who is composting in the community
More about the project partners and funders
As of October 2021, we have achieved the following in our composting program:
1664 492 45
total tons of compost residential composters commercial composters
diverted from landfill