Composting Program Agreement Extended Another Year

Composting Program Agreement Extended Another Year
Ocean Compost LLC representative Garvey Heiderman, owner of The Hobbit, is pictured placing food waste into a compost collection bin. File Photo

OCEAN CITY – The ever-growing private sector food waste composting program got another one-year extension from the Town of Ocean City last week.

The Mayor and Council last Tuesday had before them a request to extend the agreement with the private sector company Ocean Compost LLC for another year.

Last July, The Hobbit Restaurant owner and Ocean Compost LLC representative Garvey Heiderman pitched his pilot food waste composting program to the Mayor and Council.

The concept calls for Ocean Compost LLC to collect food waste from a handful of restaurants in the resort and transport it to a composting site in Bishopville. The idea is to reduce the overall waste stream emanating from Ocean City by removing a significant amount of biodegradable food waste and composting it on a five-acre site in northern Worcester County.

Over a decade ago, Ocean City pivoted from a traditional curbside recycling program to an innovative waste-to-energy operation. Trash collected in Ocean City is transported to a plant in Pennsylvania where it is incinerated and converted to energy. The town pays Covanta, the waste-to-energy operation, per ton to incinerate waste collected and convert it into renewable energy, and Ocean Compost LLC is using a pilot program to reduce the amount of food waste that heads to Pennsylvania.

In the pilot program, Ocean Compost LLC collected food waste from five participating restaurants in the resort, weighed it at the town’s public works complex at 65th Street and then transported it to a site in Bishopville for composting.

Last Tuesday, Public Works Director Hal Adkins and Heiderman appeared before the Mayor and Council seeking a one-year extension of the town’s agreement with Ocean Compost. The council unanimously approved the agreement extension.

“They are hoping to expand the program,” said Adkins. “It’s going very well. They now wish to extend the agreement for an additional year and expand the number of businesses they will service.”

Adkins explained there are now financial strings attached for the town in approving the extension.

“The program is the sole responsibility of Ocean Compost, with the exception that their food waste collection is weighed at 65th Street and they are compensated on a per-ton basis,” he said. “This per-ton compensation is not in addition to payments made to Covanta, it is compensation to Ocean Compost in lieu of per-ton payments to Covanta.”

Councilman Mark Paddack said he hoped the extension would result in an expansion of the program.

“There are 14 businesses expressing an interest in the program and the town has over 200 liquor licenses,” he said. “You have to crawl before you walk. I’d like to see more participation in the future. It’s a great program.”

Late last year, Heiderman presented an update on the pilot program. He said the program composted about 80,000 pounds of food waste last year, or around 40 tons, including 12,000 pounds from The Hobbit alone.

It’s important to note those numbers essentially reflect half a year’s worth of collections as the town did not start partnering with Ocean Compost until last July.

This year, with more restaurants getting on board, the program is projected to collect and compost 250 tons of food waste in the resort. It’s interesting to note, of the roughly 80,000 pounds of food waste collected through the program, the Bonfire led the way with over 30,000 pounds collected, while the Hobbit was second with nearly 28,000 pounds collected.

The balance was spread over the three restaurants participating, including Annabelle’s, the Dough Roller and Mother’s Cantina.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.