Who would have imagined a small green bucket could make such a significant impact.

Since its inception three years ago, the CNY Green Bucket Project has amassed nearly 50 customers and helped to divert over 35,550 pounds of food waste from our local landfill.

Melissa, the owner of CNY Green Bucket Project, said her idea spawned from an identified lack of local residential compost hauling services and a belief that we all have a vital role to play in reversing damages to nature

“When you think of Utica and the surrounding areas, do you think of nature, beauty, education, home-grown, and sustainable — a wonderful place to live and raise your family?” Melissa remarked during her interview with Ardent Vox. “The CNY Green Bucket Project was built on these beliefs and the need for growth into greener initiatives that were being embraced by our area in recent years. With the new construction of homes, renovations of existing buildings for new restaurants and apartments, gardens being built, as well as the planned completion of the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority’s (Food2Energy program)…it seemed just like the right time for a local food scraps/compost company to begin.”

“At CNY Green Bucket Project, we believe that we need to do all we can.” 

So, what exactly is the Project? Simply, it’s a paid service that hauls away your residential, compostable waste twice monthly to be ultimately converted to energy.

“At CNY Green Bucket Project, we believe that we need to do all we can”

The simple, straightforward Project began in 2018 as an idea discussed among friends, a conversation with the folks at The Authority on their Food2Energy initiative, and interest garnered from local Utica business, The Bagel Grove, which became the Project’s first customer. 

With these connections, CNY Green Bucket Project launched in March of 2018. However, without The Authority’s Food2Energy program online (that wouldn’t come about until 2019), Melissa made arrangements to take the food scraps to a local farm, which was the only locally permitted compost site available in Oneida County. This enabled Melissa to enroll customers right away.

Flash forward to 2021, The Authority’s Food2Energy program is operational and Melissa’s growing base of clients is a large part of this effort.  

“EVERY BUCKET MATTERS…AND EVERY CLIENT IS A FRIEND”

The little green bucket at the center of it all.

“(Melissa’s Project) is a great program that allows for curbside pick up of food waste from residents, which is a service that no major hauler in the area offers,” Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority Recycling Coordinator, Samantha Brown said.

According to Samantha, the Food2Energy program is a collaboration between the Authority and the Oneida County Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP).

“What the Authority’s Food2Energy program allows us to do is simply to receive packaged and unpackaged food waste from businesses and residents, and we run that material through our de-packager. We then add gray water to the mix to form a ‘slurry’, and that is pumped into tanker trucks that we drive around the corner to the WPCP where it is pumped into their digesters.”

The WPCP pumps all the wastewater from the County to produce energy (which is where Samantha said the bulk of the energy they produce comes from). This allows the Authority to supplement WPCP’s feedstock with food waste.

“This is a great partnership for us; first, we are not driving the heavy food waste up to the landfill, just around the corner for anaerobic digestion, and second, mixing feedstocks actually leads to higher energy production,” Samantha explained. “This is because microbes love diversity, and having varied organic material in the digesters can actually lead to a higher production of methane, which is the gas that is collected, pressurized, and ran through the generators. So it really works out well for both of us.”

Any resident can bring their food waste in plastic bags directly to the Authority’s Utica EcoDrop location at $2 a bag. However, Melissa’s approach to compost hauling is to make it as clean, convenient, and eco-mindful as possible. 

“We believe in simplicity and are here to help the Earth and keep it sustainable,” Melissa says. 

Customers fill the bucket with food scraps and place it at the curb on the scheduled pick-up day. There are no contracts. The Project includes a one-time purchase for the 100 percent recycled bucket at $21.75 and then a $21.75 recurring monthly fee. This includes the bi-weekly pick-up, hauling, bucket cleansing, and compostable bag replacement (The first compostable bag is included).

The Green Bucket Project is available to household residents in Clinton, New Hartford, Whitesboro, Utica, and a few surrounding areas of New York Mills.

Since its first collection, the Project has transitioned solely to residential hauling, but Melissa remains grateful to The Bagel Grove for playing an integral role in the startup. “We wouldn’t be here without them,” Melissa says. “Every bucket matters to help make the world a better place and every client is a friend.” 

Check out the CNY Green Bucket website here to learn about other large generators leading CNY into the future of food waste recovery.  

To find out more about CNY Green Bucket Project or sign up visit, cnygreenbucketproject.com, facebook.com/CNYGREENBUCKETPROJECT, or call 315-922-0642.

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