Bottle recycling at the Durham Fair was started in 2006 by Boy Scout Troop 27 and the CRHS ECO club.
The groups place approximately 130 blue recycling barrels throughout the fairgrounds and collect, on average, 32,000 bottles and cans for the five cent redemption. The funds raised help support the groups’ activities.
Another 5,000 to 8,000 bottles are collected for general recycling. This stops recyclable products from going into the waste stream.
Two of the best years, collection-wise, were 2014 and 2017, when around 45,000 bottles and cans were taken from the fairgrounds.
Each year, about 40 scouts, students and adult leaders participate in the recycling project.
The Durham Fair composting project started in 2013 with a grant from the Coginchaug Valley Education Foundation. Since the project began, 31.21 tons of food waste (62,420 pounds) has been diverted from the waste stream.
At the 2021 fair, nearly all food vendors participated in the composting project. Seventy-eight vendors took part, and 33 volunteers helped distribute buckets and collect 3.45 tons (6,900 pounds) of food waste.
The food waste is shipped to Quantum BioPower in Southington, where it goes through a bio-digestion process to create natural gas, which is used to generate electricity.
The composting project is a multigenerational effort, drawing volunteers from Sustainable Durham, the CRHS ECO club, Boy Scout Troop 27, Coginchaug Area Transition, and the general public.