Virginia Aquarium Composting Pilot Program Ends with Success

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Last month, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center concluded a year-long Composting Pilot Program which resulted in ten restaurant and food service partners collectively diverting nearly 25 tons of organic waste away from the landfill and back into the productive cycle of organics/compost processing. To mark this occasion Mike Giuranna, Environmental Protection Agency Region III Solid Waste Specialist, will discuss the benefits of composting and recognize the Pilot Program Partners tomorrow, Thursday, November 29, at 12:30 p.m., at the Virginia Aquarium’s Bay & Ocean Pavilion.


The project was funded by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Initially the program was to operate for six months but the Aquarium stretched the funding to last for an entire year while adding new partners along the way. “Now that these restaurants have developed this new sustainable practice of composting, it is hoped that they will continue while absorbing the minimal costs to do so,” said Virginia Aquarium Director of Research & Conservation Mark Swingle. One restaurant partner, Kristina Pitsilades-Chastain, vice president  operations, of Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant, said, “I am sad to see the compost project come to an end but I hope all of us have shown how easily it can be done and how effective it can be. We absolutely want to continue composting.”


The restaurants participating as Pilot Program Partners are also designated Virginia Green which is a statewide program that works to reduce the environmental impacts of Virginia’s tourism industry.  Attending tomorrow’s event is Virginia Green Program Coordinator Tom Griffin who has been so impressed with the program that he wants to share the results with all Virginia Green restaurants and businesses as a model.


The ten Pilot Program Partners are: Virginia Aquarium Café by Sodexo; Croc’s 19th Street Bistro; Doc Taylor’s; Tautog’s; Rockafeller’s; Bad Ass Coffee; Captain George’s; Fruitive; Virginia Wesleyan College; and Norfolk Academy.

According to the EPA, composting helps prevent methane and leachate formulation in the landfills. It also has the ability to regenerate poor soils, clean-up contaminated soil and prevent pollution. Compost can also be used to control erosion and restore wetlands. There are economic benefits as well since compost reduces the need for water, fertilizers and pesticides.