Princeton to re-launch organic waste food scraps program

Princeton officials had hit the pause button on the organic waste recycling program in 2019 for financial reasons


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Princeton officials are gearing up to re-launch the town’s organic food waste recycling program, four years after it was suspended in 2019 for economic reasons.

Officials are launching the free food scraps recycling program on a trial basis, limiting participation to 200 households. The application period for the program opened Sept. 20 and closes Oct. 20.

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Residents can apply online for the program at They may also apply by visiting the town’s website at

The food scraps application form asks for the applicant’s name, email address, telephone number and street address.

The form lists acceptable and unacceptable items for the food scraps program.

Acceptable items include all fruits and vegetables; meat, poultry, fish, seafood and bones; nuts, seeds, chips, snacks and beans; dairy, egg/shells; tea bags, coffee grinds and filters; breads, pasta, rice, grains and cereal.

They can be collected in a reusable container or tub or bucket. The container can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer until it is full of food scraps, officials said.

The list of unacceptable items includes hazardous waste and cleaning products; batteries; recyclable material; yard waste and cut flowers; and diapers and pet waste.

Also on the list of unacceptable items are landfill trash, wrappers, pizza boxes, napkins, paper products of any kind, plastic bags and plastics of any kind.

Applicants will be asked to complete a questionnaire that reinforces what is acceptable to be deposited in the food scraps containers at the collection sites.

After the application period closes, 200 households will be chosen at random through a lottery system. They will be notified during the week of Oct. 23. They will receive an email with the site access code and equipment instructions.

The “winners” will be assigned to one of two drop-off locations – the Monument Hall municipal building on Stockton Street, or the Witherspoon Hall municipal building at 400 Witherspoon St.

The food scraps will be taken to Trenton Renewables, which is a food waste and renewable energy facility in Trenton. The food scraps will be converted into energy and compost.

Officials said food scraps are the single largest component in the trash collection system. As food scraps decompose in a landfill, they produce methane. It is a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more damaging than carbon dioxide.

Diverting scraps from the landfill would reduce Princeton’s carbon emissions by 8.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per food scrap drop-off site every year, officials said.

An analysis of food scrap programs – including backyard composting, curbside pickup and other methods – shows that providing a central drop-off location for food scraps is the most economical and sustainable solution for Princeton, officials said.

Recycling food scraps is not a new concept in Princeton, officials said. The town had an optional organic waste program for many years until it was suspended in 2019.

Princeton officials hit the pause button on the organic waste recycling program for financial reasons. The only bidder submitted a bid of $829,200 for 2019 and 2020.

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