ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — As part of Rochester’s ‘Climate Action Plan’ started in 2017, the city has been actively working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in its operations and the community as a whole. One program, which was started in 2021, has proved promising in achieving that goal.

According to Karen St. Aubin, Director of Operations for the City of Rochester, ROC Compost has garnered plenty of interest, and so far has kept literal tons of waste out of area landfills.

“[In our] First-year pilot, 116 tons have been taken out of the waste stream,” St. Aubin said. “And that’s just with a small pilot program of a thousand people.”

Notably, there have been quite a few people on waiting lists from the initial sign-up period. Now, the waiting lists are beginning to clear up as the program is expanding to new days and new areas.

“We do have two sites currently on Wednesday and Saturday: One at Genesee Valley Park and one at Cobbs Hill Park,” she said, adding that both sites have been active for a year. “We are going to add a new site and we are going to add a new day.”

The growth of the project also coincides with other efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions, according to Rochester’s Manager of Environmental Quality, Anne Spaulding. Other projects have included, electrifying the city’s fleet of vehicles, and installing new eco-friendly LED street lamps. Even with the variety of other projects happening all at the same time Spaulding, who is a participant in ROC Compost herself, is impressed by how much they’ve been able to do so far to reduce emissions.

“[We’ve] reduced about 70 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from collecting that compost,” said Spaulding.

That’s equivalent to taking about 15 cars off the road for a year, which may not sound like a lot in the grand scheme of affairs, but it is a solid start as the program continues to grow. ROC Compost is currently accepting new participants as it works to add more drop-off locations, sign up information can be found on the City of Rochester’s website.

For those on the fence about signing up, ROC Compost will also be hosting a pumpkin composting event this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Lake Riley Lodge, and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., at Genesee Valley Park, 131 Elmwood Avenue. Information about ROC City Compost will be available at the event.

Editors Note (11/2): A previous version of this story stated the wrong time and location for the Pumpkin Composting event, and misspelled the name of an interviewee. These errors have been corrected.