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Chelsea Piers Turns to 'Bubba' to Eat Food Trash

By DNAinfo Staff on March 16, 2011 2:26pm

By Tara Kyle

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

CHELSEA — When Chelsea Piers wanted a greener way to get rid of food scraps produced by millions of visitors, they bought themselves a $30,000 food gobbler known as "Bubba."

The energy-efficient food composter — which takes its name from a kitchen staff member — gets fed more than 100 tons of waste annually, collected at the complex's array of wedding receptions, summer camps and onsite restaurants.

"Bubba," installed in 2009, can convert even animal bones into liquid, and then flushes that into the sewage system instead of landfills. It is just one piece of a major, eco-conscious overhaul implemented at the sports complex over the past three years.

And so as most of New York prepared Wednesday for St. Patrick's Day revelry, Chelsea Piers was one of three city businesses celebrated for another version of green-consciousness by Con Edison Solutions, the utility provider's renewable energy affiliate.

"Even though it does cost a bit more than conventional sources," said Jorge Lopez, CEO of Con Edison Solutions, "going green does make a big difference."

Chelsea Piers currently operates entirely on wind power supplied by Con Edison Solutions, according to co-founder and executive vice president David Tewksbury (the sports complex's leadership also contemplated putting their own wind turbines and solar panels on site, before deeming that idea impractical).

"We feel it's well worth it," Tewksbury said, describing the food waste and wind programs, as well as other green initiatives as simply doing "what our customers want us to do — be a good global citizen."