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A better way to dispose of food waste in West Oak Lane and Point Breeze

Philadelphia’s Streets Department is teaming up with community groups in West Oak Lane and Point Breeze and a private food waste disposal company to encourage residents  to use sink disposals to get rid of food, instead of merely throwing it away. The voluntary pilot program, called "Clean Kitchen, Green Community" is another step by the Nutter administration to help fulfill its Greenworks sustainability blueprint and make the city the most environmentally-friendly in the nation.

The food disposal pilot relies on the Ogontz Ave. Redevelopment Corporation (OARC) and Diversified Community Services (DCS) to get the word out to residents in West Oak Lane and Point Breeze, respectively. This is a role that both community organizations are happy to play.

"We pride ourselves on being innovators," says John Ungar, the chief operating officer of OARC. Both Ungar and Cheryl Weiss, the executive director of DCS, say their organizations have been busy going door-to-door in the community, striving to convince residents to give the program a try.

One hundred homeowners in both Point Breeze and West Oak Lane will receive a complimentary sink food disposal system and free installation by local plumbers, says city Streets commissioner Clarena I.W. Tolson. The disposals will be provided by Wisconsin-based InSinkErator. The president emeritus of InSinkErator, Jerry Ryder, spoke at the West Oak Lane press conference and demonstration for "Clean Kitchen." 

This pilot is part of the city’s ongoing efforts to bolster its environmental sustainability. While the city has worked to address greening as it relates to stormwater run-off, recycling, and energy efficiency, this program expands the scope to include food disposal.

"We want to test an opportunity and an issue for us," says Tolson of food waste. Tolson adds that not everyone is able to compost food waste, and for those who can’t, this program serves as a sustainable means of disposal. "Clean Kitchen" is in line with the Greenworks goal of diverting up to 70 percent of city materials from landfills. 

The press demonstration, which was held at Special T’s Events in West Oak Lane, featured an InSinkErator and plenty of chicken wings and vegetables for dignitaries, guests, and members of the media to hurl down the sink. Speakers, including Mayor Nutter, Senator Evans, and InSinkErator’s Ryder all got to dispose of their food in the sink. Attendees seemed impressed by the sink disposal, even if it was a little louder than a trash can. 

Source: Clarena I.W. Tolson, Philadelphia Streets Department
Writer: Andy Sharpe     
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