OCEAN CITY – New food waste goals, partnerships and pilot programs are just some of the ways organizers of a resort composting initiative hope to expand operations in 2022.
In a press conference held Tuesday, Go Green OC founder Josh Chamberlain and Ocean Compost LLC owner Garvey Heiderman, proprietor of The Hobbit Restaurant, announced plans to expand their resort composting program ahead of the summer season.
In 2018, Chamberlain partnered with Heiderman and The Hobbit to launch a pilot composting program. Since that time, the organizers have secured donations and partnerships with other local restaurants to divert nearly 100,000 pounds of food waste from the town’s waste stream.
But Chamberlain and Heiderman said they don’t want to stop there. This week, they announced plans to expand their operations in 2022.
“This year we have seen a record interest in the program, from volunteers to restaurants. To date, we have nearly 40 restaurants willing to participate in composting, and in the past six months we’ve had numerous people across the country reaching out to us regarding our efforts …,” Chamberlain said. “In 2022, our goal is to divert nearly 250 tons of food waste, which is equivalent to about 500,000 pounds. Of course, with more food waste we will need to ramp up operations.”
Garvey noted Ocean Compost has purchased a box truck this year to haul more food waste. Ocean Compost and Go Green OC also announced new partnerships with the Ocean City Surfrider Foundation and the Lower Eastern Shore Sierra Club, which presented a $1,000 check on Tuesday to support the composting program’s expansion efforts.
“With the help of organizations like the Sierra Club, we’ll be able to buy more exterior roller cans,” Heiderman explained. “We’re also adding on some really significant restaurants in town, which is going to allow us to see how we can better utilize this program.”
This year’s composting participants include The Hobbit, Mother’s Cantina (both north and south locations), The Bonfire, Dough Roller (70th Street), Bayside Skillet, Longboard Cafe, Macky’s, Fish Tales, Real Raw Organics, Annabelle’s BBQ & Creamery, and Barrio Taco.
Fish Tales owner Shawn Harman said this week the decision to enroll his restaurant into the composting program was an easy one.
“This will take a huge amount of waste out of the landfill,” he said. “When they came to me, it was a no-brainer. We fully support it.”
Officials this week also announced the introduction of a pizza box collection program in partnership with Dough Roller.
“Go Green OC and Ocean Compost is proud to introduce the pizza box, the first pizza box collection receptacle in all of the county,” an organizer announced at Tuesday’s conference. “Normally, pizza boxes take up large spaces in trash cans and cannot be recycled at all. These pizza boxes will be diverted to the farm and turned into healthy compost.”
Organizers this week said the expansion of the composting program wouldn’t be possible without the support of restaurant staff, donors and volunteers, which have tripled in recent years.
Heiderman also recognized the Town of Ocean City for partnering with Ocean Compost to create a pilot program last year.
More than a decade ago, Ocean City moved away from its traditional curbside recycling program and began working with Covanta, a waste-to-energy operation. As part of the agreement, the town pays Ocean Compost the same per-ton rate it pays Covanta for any compost that is removed from the waste stream, making it a cost-neutral option for the town.
“All of this would not be possible without some revenue streams,” Heiderman said.
Ocean City Councilman Peter Buas applauded the composting program.
“Frankly, as much waste that can be diverted to Ocean Compost is a win-win for everybody, and it doesn’t cost the town any money,” he explained. “So I look forward to keeping it growing.”