New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has become a controversial figure with his approach to a healthier, more sustainable city, but his latest venture already seems to have a decent number of residents on board. His administration recentlyÂ launched a pilot program to encourage New Yorkers to compost their food scraps, in hopes of eliminating waste and putting scraps to good use.
â€œBy recycling food waste, we can cut down on the total amount of trash we send to landfills and put it to better use as compost for community gardens or even energy,â€ said Cas Holloway, Deputy Mayor for Operations. â€œThis is an innovative program thatâ€™s already seen success in homes on Staten Island and our public schools, and weâ€™re excited to expand it to more New Yorkers.â€
The organic recycling pilot program launched in May in Staten Island, and so far it has 43% of the homes on board. It has also extended to 90 public schools throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, which have seen roughly 20% diversion rate increases – from 15% to 34% in Manhattan, and from 15% to 38% in Brooklyn.
The mayorâ€™s plan is to hire a composting plant to compost 100,000 tons of food scraps every year, which is about 10% of New York Cityâ€™s residential food waste. The program will be voluntary at first, but within a few years it may be mandated and fines could be given to those who donâ€™t take part in it. New Yorkers already pay fees if they donâ€™t recycle paper, plastic, or metal.
Cities like Seattle and San Francisco have had programs like this for quite some time, but New York officials have always seen the city as too dense to actually implement a plan such as this. Since almost half of Staten Island has taken part in the program, however, there is a good chance that it could be well received by the rest of the city. If so, it has potential to put a big dent in the cityâ€™s waste problem… and the stench that comes with it.
Image CC licensed by petrr: New York food waste.