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Source: Long Island Business News

Long Island Compost to build $50M compost plant

BY JONATHAN LAMANTIA

Posted: June 25, 2013
Originally Published: June 24, 2013

Yaphank residents who complain of dust, pungent odor and water pollution emanating from Long Island Compost’s Horseblock Road transfer station may soon be able to breathe in a breath of fresh air.

Long Island Compost has agreed to build a $50 million enclosed anaerobic digester — the first of its kind in the New York metropolitan area — after 19 months of mediation involving Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the Brookhaven Community Coalition, Long Island Compost and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Charles Vigliotti, president and CEO of Long Island Compost’s parent company, Great Gardens, said the digester will be operational in the fourth quarter of 2014, pending regulatory approval from the Town of Brookhaven and the DEC.

Anaerobic digesters use microorganisms, such as bacteria, to convert food waste into renewable energy.

The company’s transition from the turned windrow method of composting to its anaerobic digester will provide enough electricity to run its 62-acre Yaphank facility and will also produce compressed natural gas to power the company’s fleet of trucks.

Vigliotti said the move will reduce the company’s greenhouse gas emissions by 427,000 tons per year and will save the company 500,000 gallons of diesel fuel. Once the Yaphank digester is built, Vigliotti has plans to build several more across Long Island.

“By making this leap into what really is the gold standard on how organic waste is handled will allow us to dramatically expand the world of recycling,” Vigliotti said during a news conference at Brookhaven Town Hall on Monday.

Vigliotti said the transition to anaerobic digestion will likely lead to increases in hiring at Long Island Compost, which currently employs about 170 people. He was unsure of how many additional employees the company might add.

“We have to see what the net effect winds up being to the company as we transition out of some of our other methodologies,” he said.

In recent years, Westbury-based Long Island Compost’s Yaphank facility has drawn criticism from community members, including Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, for operating in the open air, adding noise, odor and dust to the neighborhood.


In October 2011, based on the complaints from Citizens Campaign and 27 other community groups, the DEC modified Long Island Compost’s permit, removing the variance which allowed the company to operate its unenclosed Yaphank transfer station.

With the modification threatening to halt Long Island Compost’s operations, Vigliotti appealed the decision and asked for a mediation session to settle the dispute, leading to today’s announcement.

“What we want to say to the town is ‘Hurry up and get those permits going,’ and what we want to say to Charles is ‘Good luck in building it. Do it quickly and rapidly but effectively and efficiently,’” Esposito said.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine said the anaerobic digester fits in with the town’s initiative to avoid raising the height of the Brookhaven landfill by exploring innovative ways to dispose of waste.

“Earlier this year, I announced that we are going to be headed toward single-stream recycling,” Romaine said. “This announcement today complements that because it gives us a way to handle food-waste, particularly from large institutions.”

Michael Verni, vice-chairman of the Brookhaven Fire District Board of Commissioners, said the project will lessen the likelihood of spontaneous combustion, which was the cause of a July 2010 blaze at the Yaphank facility.

“The fire we had that time was because of the height of the mulch pile,” Verni said. “It’s definitely a lot safer for the firemen.”

Long Island Compost collects grass clippings from landscapers and food waste from retailers, such as Whole Foods, to create organic lawn-care products, which it sells at local garden centers and national retailers, including Home Depot.

Long Island Compost’s plan follows the announcement of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg that he will hire a composting firm to recycle the residential food waste.

Vigliotti and Esposito believe Long Island Compost’s facility will arrive before that plan gets off the ground.

“We like to say Mayor Bloomberg is talking about it, but Long Island is doing it,” Esposito said.