A pilot program approved by the Camden County Freeholder Board will allow mass production kitchens in four county buildings including the Camden County College, the correctional facility, vo-tech school and the juvenile detention center to dump food prep waste into recycling containers instead of dumpsters.

Freeholder Jonathan Young said Camden is the only county in New Jersey with a Sustainability Department.

Young said there's a lot of food prep waste when cooking in cafeterias and other mass production kitchens in the county such as apple cores, banana peels, potato skins and carrot tops. He said 6 tons of food prep waste are produced a week at these four buildings.

He said a vendor, which has yet to be chosen, will be awarded a one-year contract for the food waste collection services. The company will come, pick up the waste from the four buildings and use it for composting or animal feed.

Collected materials will come solely from kitchen preparation, where the majority of waste is produced. Cooked ingredients and food that has been handled by customers will continue to be thrown in the trash to avoid contamination.

Young said having a vendor come in and do this is a win-win for everyone because they're not charging the county any money to pick up the food. By reducing the tonnage of waste that's being sent to the incinerator, the county is saving the taxpayers money while also taking the county one step further toward environmental sustainability.

"We hope it really starts to catch on and then more people will start to do it and we can get more restaurants in the area to start to do it," said Young.

Young hopes to get the program up and running by spring. Whether someone believes if sustainability works or does not work, he said they'll never know unless they try something. So Young is asking residents to be conscious of what's going on around them and to do better cleaning up the state.

"So if we try these new things and we try to go back and have these items start to break back down into natural products, I think we'll be in a much better place," said Young.

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