Composting at Hostelling International Hostel | New York City, NY

Published Mar 14, 2023

The Hostelling International NYC Hostel was able to seamlessly transition their waste management systems using the EcoRich Elite II composter. Before using the Elite II, all organic waste was disposed of as trash (municipal solid waste).

The World of Decentralized Composting

Centralized composting involves transporting food waste from kitchens and the like to large-scale commercial composting facilities, requiring multiple journeys by large trucks that congest the roads and pollute our communities.

This is less efficient for both the user and the planet, seeing as it costs anywhere from $200 to$400 to have the waste picked up in large trucks that, in turn, increases food waste-producers’ carbon footprints.

EcoRich sees an opportunity in the growing public support of environmentally sustainable communities and businesses.

A Thriving Consumer Landscape

A study conducted by the National Restaurant Association, showed that 51 percent of people surveyed said they would pay extra (median 10% more) to eat at restaurants that recycle.

This shows that there is a large market of consumers who truly care if the restaurants they choose to eat at are recycling.

The HI NYC Hostel

HI New York is a 700-bed hostel located on the upper west side of Manhattan. It is part of HI USA, a nonprofit network of nearly 50 hostels nationwide, and Hostelling International, an international nonprofit network of over 4,000.

"Sustainability is core to who we are as an organization. Environmental, social, and financial responsibility is embedded into all levels of the organization including board policies, hostel standards, marketing, and programming.", says Zack Hetrick, Chief Sustainability Officer at the Hostel’s headquarters in Washington D.C.

The Composting Experience

The hostel learned that a brief training process can and will yield optimal results.

Mr. Hetrick states that "While it's incredibly simple to operate, it does require appropriate staff training to ensure it is used properly. In the end, it is as simple as put in the right stuff daily, start it up, take it out the next day, and repeat."

Ultimately, the HI NYC Hostel was able to make unprecedented strides towards achieving the ultimate goal of sustainability advocates, a Zero Waste system.

The EcoRich Experience

The Hi Hostel team worked with EcoRich to thoroughly prepare a composting system that minimized labor and maximized results.

This was accomplished by developing a shared vision through multiple site visits, constant communication, and attention to detail from both sides.

Mr. Hetrick was particularly pleased with the work done by EcoRich representatives during the installation and training periods.

He added that while the hostel's active hauling contract prevents them from saving on their pick up costs, they are still maximizing the machine's capacity on a regular basis. This would indicate that the potential for saving is still present.

A Perfect Product for the Right User

The HI NYC Hostel composting initiative, and the subsequent EcoRich Elite II user experience, can be boiled down to the following quote from Mr. Hetrick:

"The equipment is a unique and powerful tool that helps combat our food waste problem worldwide. The right application of any equipment is key. I am not sure it is a tool for everyone but is the perfect tool for certain users."

Like all productive and progressive causes, composting may never be as easy as it's harmful alternatives.

However, the ever-growing composting movement has resulted in a vast improvement in the number and quality of options in the market. The EcoRich Elite II stands amongst those options as a viable solution to the food waste epidemic.