County works to keep food waste out of the landfill

(Lia Sestric/WCIV)

By Lia

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- From the Cooper River Bridge Run to the Cajun Festival, a lot of food waste was generated. The good news is this is the first year it's being composted.

Charleston County composter superintendent, Harvey Gibson said it's a step in the right direction.

"The food waste used to go into the municipal solid waste or the landfill. That food is now being used and made into finished compost. So instead of it being buried and lost for years and years and not reused. Now, we are recycling that product."

Charleston County has the only site in South Carolina that's approved by DHEC to do full-scale commercial food composting. Until recently there was no other place to put it other than a landfill.

The Cooper River Bridge Run generated 1,500 pounds of food waste. The Cajun Festival generated 1,800 pounds.

Food Waste Disposal owner Wayne Koeckeritz hauled the waste to the composting facility on Bees Ferry Road. He said 75 percent of all the waste at the Cajun Festival was food, which will all be composted.

"Some of the things they did were all the beer was served in compostable plastic cups, which could come here and see the end of life the right way. They really made great product choices to get those numbers up there."

Koeckeritz was a food operations manager at the Sanctuary on Kiawah Island when he got the business idea to become the link between generators of food waste and the composting facility. He has only been in business for a month, but he has developed a restaurant clientele in addition to events.

"The big movement right now is farm to table. I like to think I'm the second half of that, table to farm."

He said everything from a dinner plate can be composted, including bones.

"It's what the plant needs to grow and prosper," he said. "So rather than think of food content as waste, it's actually a really rich nutrient source of material for farms and gardens around the Lowcountry."

The process of composting takes 45 days according to Gibson. The county sells it by the ton for $10 or by the bag for two dollars.

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