By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
Representatives from a South Carolina composting company showed the company’s extended aerated static pile composting system to area municipal officials and regional and state partners at the West Haven compost site Dec. 14.
Standing in front of a pile of food waste and leaves covered in woodchips, Leah Retherford, an engineering project manager for Atlas Organics, said the EASP system can manage up to 6,000 tons of compostable waste per year.
The system is composed of high-density polyethylene plastic pipes attached to a machine that blows hot air into the bottom of the pile to accelerate the decomposing process.
The compost heap was built at the 1 Kimberly Ave. site by heavy equipment operator John Harwood of the city Department of Public Works.
Among those at the presentation by Retherford and Jim Davis, Atlas’ vice president of strategic development, were West Haven Public Works Commissioner Tom J. McCarthy and Grant Coordinator Doug Colter. They were joined by members of the South Central Regional Council of Governments and officials of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Colter, the city’s project manager, is overseeing a food waste diversion and compost pilot project funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Urban Farming program.
According to Colter, the composting project is permitted by DEEP as a pilot program in cooperation with SCRCOG and is a public-private partnership with Atlas.
The initiative, supported by McCarthy and Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, is exploring ways for West Haven to reduce the waste it trucks to an incinerator to better position the city for the Connecticut waste disposal crisis that threatens future budget health, Colter said.
Atlas, based in Spartanburg, South Carolina, provides services to pick up composting materials for residential homes, corporations, local businesses and municipalities and to deliver the highest-quality grade of finished compost for agricultural and landscaping uses, according to the company’s website.
Davis said Atlas is looking to contract with SCRCOG and its 15-member municipalities in New Haven County, including West Haven, to improve the municipalities’ sustainability and to reduce waste.
SCRCOG brings together local governments to coordinate transportation planning, regional planning and municipal services programs on a regional basis.