Montgomery County Announces Montgomery Mall and Montgomery County Public Schools as New Partners in Commercial Food Scraps Recycling Program

For Immediate Release: Thursday, November 18, 2021

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commercial Food Scraps Recycling Partnership Program, the only program of its kind in the State of Maryland and in the metropolitan Washington region, continues to expand and today announced that Westfield Montgomery Mall and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) are its newest partners.

Westfield Montgomery Mall and MCPS are now participating in the program that DEP started in May 2020. Through the initiative, businesses and organizations are provided technical assistance, education, training, materials, 35-gallon food scraps collection containers, compostable bags, food scraps recycling collection services and processing at a compost facility to assist them with recycling food scraps.

Diverting food scraps from the waste stream reduces the amount of waste disposed. Recycling the food scraps into a new, useful product helps the County toward achieving its waste diversion and recycling goals. The program met a major milestone recently as it surpassed 625,000 pounds of food scraps collected and recycled since its start.

DEP’s Recycling and Resource Management Division estimates that approximately 124,000 tons of food waste, or food scraps, are disposed of in the waste stream annually in Montgomery County. The total tonnage includes an estimated 68,000 tons accumulated by businesses and organizations each year.

“Food waste is the next frontier material,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “Through the Commercial Food Scraps Recycling Partnership Program, local businesses and organizations are taking on an important leadership role in the Countywide effort to reduce, reuse and recycle more as we aim for zero waste in Montgomery County.”

One of the goals of the program is to increase opportunities for private sector collection companies to provide food scraps recycling collection services to businesses and organizations.

Since the start of the initiative, 22 businesses and organizations have participated in the program. Two of the original commercial partners—Kenwood Country Club and Qiagen—have “graduated” and are now continuing their food scraps recycling programs by contracting with private food scraps recycling collection companies.

Current and past partners in the Commercial Food Scraps Recycling Partnership Program include (* denotes past participants):

  • Chevy Chase Club
  • GSK
  • Grill Kabob at Westfield Montgomery Mall
  • John L. Gildner RICA
  • Kenwood Country Club*
  • Manna Food Center
  • Montgomery County Public Schools–Carver Educational Services Center
  • Montgomery County Public Schools–Division of Food and Nutrition Services
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel High School
  • Panda Express at Westfield Montgomery Mall
  • Purée Artisan Juice Bar
  • Qiagen*
  • Quartermaine Coffee Roasters (Bethesda)
  • Relish Catering LLC
  • Sarku Japan at Westfield Montgomery Mall
  • Seoul Kitchen at Westfield Montgomery Mall
  • Shepherd’s Table
  • Simply Fresh Events Catering
  • So What Else, Inc.
  • Starbucks at Westfield Montgomery Mall
  • Ya Mon! Island Grill at Westfield Montgomery Mall

“We are thrilled to see so many large and small Montgomery County-based businesses, organizations—and even the Federal government—taking part in this important food scraps recycling effort,” said DEP Acting Director Adriana Hochberg. “Companies that graduate from the program and continue with their food scraps recycling are not only saving their business or organization, and the County, time and money by reducing the amount of waste disposed, they are also demonstrating how easy it is to go from throwing away food scraps to recycling them into a beneficial soil conditioner.”

Westfield Montgomery’s Senior General Manager Todd Hiepler said: “As an organization, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s global sustainability strategy—called Better Places 2030—is committed to reducing greenhouse emissions by 50 percent by the year 2030. We are proud to align Westfield Montgomery with Montgomery County’s Commercial Food Scraps Recycling Partnership Program. We have 40 restaurants and food service operators here at our center, and by coming together, we believe we can work to reduce our waste and recycle more toward zero waste for the betterment of the County, the region and our planet as a whole for years to come.”

The collected food scraps are transported to the Prince George’s County Western Branch Organics Composting Facility. They are mixed with yard trim materials, processed and marketed as a commercial product called “Leafgro® Gold,” a premium quality soil amendment used to improve soil and plant health. Leafgro® products are sold throughout the region, including in retail locations in Montgomery County.

For more information about the County Commercial Food Scraps Recycling Partnership Program, visit https://www.MontgomeryCountyMD.gov/sws/FoodWaste/.

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