Last updated: September 06. 2013 6:00PM - 47 Views

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Delaware County commissioners on Thursday put their weight behind a proposed 10-acre composting facility off of U.S. 42N.

Commissioners agreed to oversee an application for a $250,000 grant from the Ohio Department Department of Natural Resources to pay for $500,000 worth of equipment to help build composting site near the intersection of U.S. 42 and Short Cut Road just outside Delaware city limits. Ohio Mulch Supply Inc. would pay for the rest of the facility, which it hopes to construct by mid-summer 2011.

The site would be authorized to accept food waste, yard waste and animal manure and bedding. When built, Ohio Mulch would combine the waste with wood chips to make landscaping mulch for commercial sale and distribution. Ohio Mulch plans to hire seven full-time workers and three seasonal workers to run the site, said Kristin Shek, an attorney representing the company.

Under terms of the agreement, Ohio Mulch will pay $1,000 to the county to administer and submit the grant. The composting site would be built on a 10-acre piece of land near the Delaware County Jail. The county bears no financial responsibility for the project.

Ninety percent of restaurant and grocery store waste is food waste, Shek said. With a composting facility, that material would be recycled instead of rotting in a landfill. The company hopes the site will eventually process up to 100 tons of waste a day from all around Central Ohio, according to the grant application.

“We would like this particular site to be a model for other sites around the state,” Shek said.

By awarding the grants, the state is trying to help cut down on the amount of food waste sitting in landfills in an environmentally friendly way while creating jobs, said Chet Chaney, an ODNR grant administrator. ODNR typically gives out around $2 million a year through the program.

There are 27 sites like the one Ohio Mulch wants to build in Ohio, including one by Price Fams Organics in Delaware County.

The state will decide who gets the money within the next two weeks. Thirty-five companies have applied so far.

Commissioner Tommy Thompson said he appreciate’s Ohio Mulch’s “outside-the-box thinking” in pursuing the project.

“I think it’s a great idea, and it keeps that stuff from going into a landfill,” Thompson said.

Commissioner Ken O’Brien voted for the application, but not before expressing concerns about the impact of increased trucking traffic bringing waste to the site. He asked Shek about trucking volume, as well as what the fuel efficiency would be of the vehicles. He questioned why the site wouldn’t be built in southern Delaware County, since it would be accepting much of its waste from Columbus.

Shek said she wasn’t sure about specific details, but that the trucks would be refrigerated to help mitigate any unpleasant smells. She also said there is no room in southern Delaware County for such a site.

Thompson said he appreciates O’Brien’s concerns about truck volume, but that he doesn’t see it being that much worse than the agriculture-related and other heavy vehicles that already drive around on Delaware County roads.

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