West Chester’s thriving dining scene is turning trash into treasure through a new federal government composting grant. A year-long pilot program of West Chester Borough and West Chester University will turn food leftovers into more fertile soil to grow next year’s choice restaurant fare.
The new compost initiative starts this month and aims to help everyone involved: businesses, landfills, local farms and gardens, and the environment in Chester County. And the implications have incredible scope: Nationwide 35 million tons, or 20 to 30 percent, of the waste stream is composed of food.
By diverting food scraps to a compost site, businesses save money on hauling away trash, landfills release less methane from decomposing organic material — which is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide emissions — and the resulting nutrient-rich compost is available for farmers and landscapers, ultimately reducing use of chemical fertilizers and harmful agricultural runoff.
The federal money comes from a second Environmental Protection Agency grant to West Chester University’s Dr. Denise Polk, and the actual work will be performed by the West Chester Borough Public Works Department, which will collect food waste from Barclay Friends, Carlino’s, Chester County Hospital, The Hickman, Landmark Americana, Market Street Grill, Ram’s Head, Roots Café, The Split Rail Tavern and West Chester University’s Lawrence Dining Hall (food service provided through Aramark).