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Stories From Main Street: Students Learn Valuable Lessons About Environment In Mamaroneck

MAMARONECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A middle school in Mamaroneck is the first public school in Westchester County to use the Rocket, an industrial size composter.

All cafeteria food waste at Hommocks Middle School is now turned into compost for the school garden and greenhouse.

The Rocket is a stainless steel cylinder about the size of a large barbecue.

The composter removes roughly 77 pounds of food scraps from the waste stream per day, an estimated 3 tons per year.

Mamaroneck school Superintendent Dr. Robert Shaps said they're reducing waste, saving tax money and teaching children about the environment.

"It allows you to take all forms of food waste and actually turn it into usable compost," Shaps said.

Wood chips and food waste get put into the composter and then nature takes its course over a couple of weeks inside the heated drum.

Gerardo Soto of Nath Sustainable Solutions said the composter reaches a temperature of 158-degrees Fahrenheit that kills pathogens.

"That's why we can put chicken, fish, dairy, everything goes into the Rocket," Soto said. "It takes two weeks from one end to the other end, in 14 days we have a finished product."

Environmental consultant Anna Giordano with We Future Cycle hopes to transform the school cafeteria.

"The good thing about it is that the kids are sorting, so we're not just taking the food waste out of the waste stream, we're also taking the extra liquid, the commingled, the paper and the cardboard out of the system so we reduce garbage by 84 percent," Giordano said.

Children are learning valuable lessons.

"This is our generation so when we grow up this is going to be our world," said seventh grader Lorena Marrone.

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