United States
Environmental Protection
Solid Waste and
Emergency Response
September 1998
 Frost  Valley  YMCA
Claryville, New York
100% Recovery of Food Discards

    Using a static aerobic composting system, this 6,000-acre residential
    educational and recreational facility in the  Catskill Mountains
    composts 100% of the food discards from its kitchen and dining room. From 1990,
    when Frost Valley began its comprehensive waste reduction program, to 1997, the facility
    reduced its total solid waste by 53% (by weight). Through food recovery, Frost Valley now
    realizes a net savings of $5,200 annually and provides a unique educational opportunity to
    thousands of visitors per year.
Program Description

  Frost Valley runs environmental education
  programs and a summer camp, as well as
hosts conferences throughout the year. About
30,000 people per year stay at this facility for
periods of one to seven nights. During the
 summer when camp is in session, the kitchen
  serves 800 people a total of approximately
   2,400 meals daily.
        In the late 1980s, as waste disposal
     costs steadily rose, Frost Valley sought
     alternatives to landfilling its waste.
     When a waste assessment found food
     to be the greatest contributor to the
     waste stream, Frost Valley decided to
     implement a composting program.
        Kitchen staff put all food preparation
     scraps, meat, bones, and paper towels
      in unlined 30-gallon plastic cans in the
      kitchen. Guests deposit their leftovers
       in an unlined can in the dining room.
        Staff stationed in the dining room
        during meals educate guests and
        help them with food recovery
              Staff bring filled cans to a
          refrigerated room adjacent to the
          dining hall. When they  have
          collected approximately 30 cans,
          they empty the cans into a
             Knight standard feed mixer, which holds up to
             6 tons of material. Staff wash cans after each
             use. During the summer with camp in session,
             it takes 3-4 days to amass one mixer load of
             material; during the fall and winter it takes 2
             to 2 1/2 weeks.
                 In addition to food, Frost Valley YMCA
             composts anything organic, including yard
             trimmings and lumber. Large items such as
             lumber are put in a hydraulic grinder and
             shredded before being added to the mixer.
                 Staff weigh food and other material going
             into the mixer and then add an equal amount
             of wood chips as a bulking agent. The wood
             chips add carbon,creating a proper
             carbon/nitrogen ratio. After mixing, materials
             are piled in a holding bay in the facility's
             Resource Management Center. Wood chips
             piled around six-inch PVC perforated pipes
             line the bottom of the bay. On top of that,
             staff layer the mixer contents and wood chips.
               Associate Executive Director for Programs
               Frost Valley YMCA
               2000 Frost Valley Road
               Claryville, NY 12725

Fans attached to the pipes cool the
piles and add oxygen.
    Materials stay in these piles for
approximately 13 weeks until the
volume, moisture, and temperature
levels have all dropped. Staff then use a
front-end loader to put material in a
             modified trommel grain
             separator, which
            separates out larger
      fj  material that has not
          completely broken down.
      Material that has gone through
      the separator is windrow
composted for 13-15 weeks.
    Frost Valley has no contamination
or odor problems. Wood chips control
odor, and because the composter and
bays are inside, there are no vector

   Frost Valley raised $250,000 for
   composting equipment and site,
educational facilities and equipment,
and development  before beginning the
project.  One of the greatest program
costs was building the attached
classroom, greenhouse, and gardens
used to share the program with the
thousands of students and families that
visit Frost Valley every year. Other costs
associated with the program include
electricity, fuel, and miscellaneous
operating costs. This totaled
approximately $500 in FY97.
    In 1997, as a result of food
recovery, Frost Valley avoided
approximately $9,700 in waste disposal
costs. It also derives revenue from the
sale of recycled materials such as
cardboard. Since implementation of its
waste reduction program, including
composting, Frost Valley has reduced
the number of trips to the landfill to
empty the dumpster from 16 to 10 per
year. In addition,composting is
continuously used as an educational
program. The educational value of this
program is hard to measure in dollars.
Because it draws visitors to  the facility, it
has been very successful in  generating
additional dollars for other
environmentally related projects on the
    property such as composting toilets
    and wood chip technology for heating
    buildings. In addition, as guests learn
    more about the project and its benefits,
    they become more interested and
    invested in composting as a method of
    handling food discards.
        Landscaping projects and an on-
    site green house and organic garden
    demonstrate uses of finished compost.

    Tips for Replication
       Make it easy for guests to
    understand your program and its value.
    Although it initially cost more to build
    the classroom, this educational space is
    an important component of
    composting at Frost Valley.
                     Program Summary, 1997
   Number of meals per year
   Start date
   Dedicated Employees*
   Materials collected

   Part of comprehensive waste
      reduction program?
   Total waste generated
   Food and other organic
      discards generated (TPY)

   Food and other organic
      discards recovered (TPY)
   Food discards recovered (%)
   Total waste recovered (TPY)
Residential education facility
485,000 (estimated)
Static aerobic piles
Pre-and post-consumer food discards; yard
trimmings; lumber

190 tons (estimated)
80 tons (estimated)
80 tons (estimated)

100 tons (estimated)
   Average composting costs          $56 per ton
   Average avoided landfill hauling    $121 perton
     and tipping fee
   Net savings**                     $65 per ton

   * This part-time employee works with both on-site composting and trash management.
   ** Net savings do not reflect the cost of the composting machine, site, and classroom. Frost Valley reports
   that these costs have been more than offset via fees paid by visitors.
   TPY = tons per year