Food scraps are being used for rich compost, fertilizer and producing electricity.

HOPEWELL — How many onion skins, banana peels and bread loaf heels does it take to make a ton of waste? A lot.

That’s how much was collected in food scraps over three months from the Ontario County Jail. And there’s more more on the way.

Instead of dumping the scraps in the garbage and ending up in a dump — in this case, the Ontario County landfill in Seneca — the discards are being reused.

The future of this food waste? Compost, fertilizer and fueling a system that converts manure and food waste into methane gas to produce electricity.

On a recent Wednesday, a hauler from Natural Upcycling made one of its routine pickups at the jail in Hopewell, where the food waste project began in January. The project is part of a larger effort by Ontario County to significantly reduce waste going to the landfill within a decade.

Tim Jensen, associate planner with the Ontario County Planning Department, said the county hired Natural Upcycling for collection and hauling. For a flat monthly fee, Natural Upcycling provides totes for the scraps, which are stored outside by dumpsters, and then empties them on a routine schedule.

After ramping up in February to collect scraps from the entire jail complex and its 200 inmates, the haul averages about 250 pounds a week, Jensen said.

Chris Noble of NobleHurst Farms in Livingston County is a partner with Natural Upcycling, which focuses on collecting organic or food waste and turning it into a renewable resource — such as electricity or natural gas — through the process called anaerobic digestion. The company recycles over 1.5 million pounds of food waste a month, which reduces carbon dioxide pollution — the equivalent of taking 1,569 cars off the road annually.

Noble, a seventh-generation dairy farmer, wears many hats.

He’s chief financial officer for Natural Upcycling and manager of Noblehurst Green Energy, a state-of-the art complete mix anaerobic co-digester. The scraps from the county project also are going to Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA), which operates recycling, composting and waste-to-energy facilities, and Cayuga Compost, Noble said.

Cayuga Compost was formed in 2005 when Jim and Mary Proctor took over the composting operation from the Cayuga Nature Center.

Then, seven businesses composted; today, over 200 businesses use the service. Cayuga Compost can take up to 5,000 wet tons of organics per year. These organics go through a carefully monitored, all-natural, yearlong process turning them into a nutrient-rich, all-natural premium compost, which is then sold in bulk, bags and special blends, according to Cayuga Compost.

Carla Jordan, a former employee of Ontario County landfill manager Casella Waste Systems Inc., now an associate planner with the county Planning Department, is working on the county's efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle.

The county is actively working to get various communities involved in the project and programs. Jordan said the county Board of Supervisors will decide soon the specifics of how they want to distribute funds that will give each community help in achieving their recycling goals.

In the meantime, Jordan said people can participate in upcoming household hazardous waste events.

One is scheduled for April 22 at the Casella Recycling Facility, next to the county landfill. Registration is required by April 20 to secure a 15-minute slot. Residents are urged to clean out their homes and garages of materials and products that should not be tossed in the trash, including batteries, cleaning fluid, disinfectants, drain cleaners, fluorescent light tubes, furniture strippers, oil-based paints, paint removers, paint thinners, permanent solutions, pesticides, weed killers, wood polishes and more.

Jordan added the county is seeking participation in a waste reduction and recycling survey. The survey is available online and in hard copy. People can find a copy of the survey at area libraries, town halls or find one online at http://bit.ly/2oafOB1.

If you go

WHAT Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day

WHEN April 22, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

WHERE Ontario County Landfill, 1879 Route 5, Stanley

DETAILS Dispose of household hazardous waste properly by signing up for the collection day. Products such as batteries, unused household cleaners, paint and solvents and other hazardous materials will be collected for free. Registration is required by April 20 for a 15-minute time slot. For information, call 585-394-3977. http://www.co.ontario.ny.us/1336/Household-Hazardous-Waste

News that matters to you

THE ISSUE Landfills are becoming a thing of the past, slowly but surely.

LOCAL IMPACT Ontario County has found a reuse plan for the tons of food waste generated by the county jail.