Weequahic High School, 1st urban school in Essex County to Compost Food Waste with Rocket Composter

******PRESS RELEASE******
NEWARK, NJ– Officials from the Newark School District were joined by environmental and city officials, including Denise Peoples, Chief of Staff, Assemblywoman Spencer, Alturrick Kennedy and DeNequa Matias Advisory School Board members, to unveil the latest in renewable technology that transforms food to soil amendment. Officials unveiled the Rocket Composter at Weequahic High School.

“The Rocket Composter is an on-site aerobic system that will allow Weequahic to recycle school generated food waste into useful compost for landscaping, horticultural needs and for science projects. This automated composting system will eliminate food waste disposal costs the school now pays and it will reduce local truck traffic as well as minimize green house pollution. Students at Weequahic now have a fantastic hands-on learning tool that can help them better understand biology and earth sciences. We are proud the Rocket Composter was chosen to be part of this environmental initiative and thankful for the vision of the Newark Board of Education and for Clean Water’s leadership that has made this all possible”, stated Peter Marcalus, NATH Sustainable Solutions.

Steve Morlino Executive Director of Facilities and Plant Operations of the NewarkSchool District said, “As one of the largest school districts that produces large amounts of food waste, it is important for us to explore alternatives to traditional disposal. We are committed to this partnership that will lead to other opportunities for us to be leaders in green initiatives for our district and community.”

The Newark Public Schools has 75 schools, 7000 employees and a student population of 39,440. It is the largest and one of the oldest school systems in New Jersey. WeequahicHigh School has 750 students and produces approximately 40 pounds of food daily.

Rodney L. Williams, Facilities Manager of Newark Public Schools, said “By using the Rocket Composter, we are extending our commitment beyond our current green environmental investments – making Weequahic High School and the Newark Public Schools of New Jersey a greener place to work and serve our students and community.”

This initiative is part of the City of Newark’s larger Sustainability Action Plan and is one of Newark’s several “Green Neighborhoods Pilot Programs.” This pilot program is coordinated by Clean Water Fund (www.cleanwaterfund.org/nj) with support from the City of Newark through federal stimulus funds from the US Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program.

“This project demonstrates that we can create savings and economic activity in Newark by taking care of the urban environment,” said Adam Zipkin, Deputy Mayor and Director of Economic and Housing Development. “The Newark Sustainability Office is proud to support this project as an example of strategies that move us closer to our Zero Waste goal. Weequahic High school success in launching this pilot project with the help of Clean Water Fund is a challenge to all school districts to find creative ways to reduce and re-use their waste.”

Gerardo Soto, managing director of NATH Sustainable Solutions, said, “This is a great example of creative partnerships among a state, a not-for-profit, and a public school. Weequahic High School will incorporate the Rocket into the school’s curriculum. This is the first urban site in New Jersey to incorporate a Rocket composter. We continue to demonstrate that it can be done anywhere. We are very excited about this unique project which will continue to revolutionize the way we treat food waste on-site in the US.”

“We applaud the Newark Public school for partnering with Clean Water Fund (CWF). We are excited about establishing an economical and sustainable model for food waste handling that can be replicated at other institutions and schools in the district,” stated Kim Gaddy, Clean Water Fund Project Coordinator. “This project will reduce garbage hauling costs, truck traffic, air pollution, source of rodent and other pest problems in the immediate South Ward neighborhood, as well as the amount of waste going to the local incinerator.”

Clean Water Fund’s mission is to develop strong grassroots environmental leadership and to bring together diverse constituencies to work cooperatively for changes that improve their lives, focused on health, consumer, environmental and community problems. Clean Water Fund’s programs build on and complement those of New Jersey Environmental Federation (NJ Chapter of Clean Water Action), one of the state’s largest, most effective environmental non-profit organizations working for clean water and air, open space, environmental justice, and building healthy communities. Clean Water Fund is a nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

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