This Thanksgiving, New Bedford wants your leftovers... specifically that carved-up turkey carcass.

The Food Waste Drop-Off Program, which launched in June 2022, is an effort by the City of New Bedford to reduce waste and extend the lifespan of the local Crapo Hill Landfill. This program enables residents to dispose of their food waste responsibly, rather than in the trash can, which accounts for approximately 21% of residential waste.

The Recycling Center at 1103 Shawmut Ave. is the focal point for this initiative, where residents can drop off a variety of food waste including fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, breads, grains, baked goods, bones, shells, eggshells, coffee grounds, and compostable bags (certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute).

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So, instead of just tossing out your turkey carcass, bag it up and bring it down to the waste drop-off. You could even be eligible to win free groceries just for making the effort.

To encourage participation, the city has launched several initiatives. Early in the program, starter kits were distributed to 100 residents. These kits included a kitchen counter bin, a roll of compostable bags and a 5-gallon bucket for transporting waste to the Recycling Center. Along with that, a promotional event running through Dec. 15 offers residents the chance to win $50 Stop & Shop gift cards when they drop off food waste at the Recycling Center.

What sets this program apart is its approach to waste processing. The collected food waste is taken by a partnering company, Recycle Works, to a waste digester in Rhode Island. There, bacteria break down the food waste into biogas, which can be utilized for heat, electricity or fuel, and a solid material called "digestate" that's useful as fertilizer or animal bedding.

The program is not only helping to reduce the amount of waste in landfills but also converting waste into valuable resources.

Matthew Barth contributed to this report. 

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