Bloomberg pitches citywide food-composting plan

Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s latest initiative would have New Yorkers sorting their food waste for composting. Credit: NYC Mayor’s Office

New Yorkers may no longer be able to throw their potato peels or egg shells in the trash can, as Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a plan in the works for a food-composting plan for all five boroughs.

Bloomberg first announced the plan in his State of the City address in February, as part of the city’s aim to divert 30 percent of the city’s waste from landfill by 2017.

“By 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,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway. “This is an innovative program that’s already seen success in homes on Staten Island and our public schools, and we’re excited to expand it to more New Yorkers.”

The program is set to launch in all five boroughs this fall and reach more than 100,000 homes, averaging about 25,000 per borough, according to Bloomberg spokesman John McCarthy.

McCarthy said organic waste makes up about 35 percent of the city’s total waste, and totaled 1.2 million tons in 2012. Getting that waste to landfills cost the city $100 million.

Ultimately, the Bloomberg administration said, the composted waste could be converted to natural gas.

Earlier this year, organics recycling programs were launched in 90 public schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan. The diversion rate reportedly increased from 15 to 34 percent in Manhattan schools and 15 to 28 percent in Brooklyn schools.

Not everyone is thrilled with Bloomberg’s plan, however.

Jeff Stier, New York City-based director of the Risk Analysis Division of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative thinktank, called the plan “a rotten idea for the Big Apple.”

“It doesn’t make sense to mandate that all New York residents save their rotting food,” Stier said. “Consider the increased risks from disease carrying vermin—a problem the city still hasn’t conquered—from all of the pre-compost material sitting around our dense living spaces, not going out with the trash each night.”

Aside from vermin, Stier is concerned about greenhouse gas emissions from additional trucks he says will have to be deployed to transport the composted waste.

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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