Newport Business Makes Point About Food Waste

By FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff

NEWPORT, R.I. — Local resident Jason Spitalnik is hoping to put a wasted resource to better use, one City-by-the-Sea neighborhood at a time.

It’s been estimated that Americans throw out as much as 20 pounds of food per person per month, at a cost of some $2,000 annually per household. This wasted food is an economic, environmental and public-health concern.

For example, throwing food scrap in the trash contributes to harmful health and climate effects, because, as it sits in a landfill, deprived of oxygen, it creates pollution such as methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

On the first Monday of June, Nate Giblin, peddling a cargo bike, will begin a weekly ride around the city’s Point neighborhood collecting residential food scrap so it can be transformed into nutrient-rich compost. June 4 is the first day of a six-month pilot program Spitalnik hopes to turn into a full-time business.

The monthly cost, including a food-scrap bucket with an easy-to-use screw top plus a payback of a cubic foot of compost after six months, is $30 a month, or about $7.50 per week. As of the end of April, 10 customers had already signed up for the service. Click here to see what materials will be collected.

Spitalnik, who manages the Aquidneck Community Table’s Island Community and Farms project in Middletown, calls his business venture FoodCycle. The peddle-powered collection program will pick up food scrap in The Point every Monday — “it’s trash day, so that makes it easy for customers,” Spitalnik said — through Nov. 26. Each cargo bike’s metal rack can hold six buckets at one time.

The Compost Plant will pick up FoodCycle’s collected material at a popular waterfront restaurant and use the material to create the company’s various compost products.

Giblin and FoodCycle’s other bicyclists will pick up the 5-gallon buckets of food scrap from customers’ homes, replace those buckets with clean ones, and deliver the resource to the Newport Lobster Shack on Long Wharf. The dockside shack, already a Compost Plant client, is letting Spitalnik keep the large collection bin on the property without charge.

Customers benefit by diminishing their carbon footprint and the state as a whole benefits by the diversion of material to the Central Landfill in Johnston.

Besides working with The Compost Plant and the Newport Lobster Shack, Spitalnik’s business venture also partnered with The Point Association.

If the six-month demonstration project is successful, FoodCycle will continue the pickups in The Point and expand its service to other city neighborhoods and bed and breakfasts in the Thames Street, Broadway and Spring Street area, Spitalnik said.

He is working on a website for FoodCycle that will allow customers to track how much food scrap they are diverting.

For more information about the project or to sign up for the service, send Spitalnik an e-mail at jasonspitalnik@gmail.com.