NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is planning to announce a citywide composting plan that would divert 100,000 tons of food scraps from landfills annually. Tested through a spring pilot program on Staten Island in which 43 percent of residents participated in composting their scrap foods, the all-borough, voluntary composting program is expected to roll out this fall. New York City has the potential to save up to $100 million a year by diverting food and organic waste from landfills. Other U.S. cities like Seattle and San Francisco already have mandatory composting programs in place and have seen up to a 70 percent decrease in landfill waste collection.
“We bury 1.2 million tons of food waste in landfills every year at a cost of nearly $80 per ton,” said Mayor Bloomberg to The New York Times. “That waste can be used as fertilizer or converted to energy at a much lower price. That’s good for the environment and for taxpayers.”
The city currently spends a whopping $336 million per year exporting residential waste across the state to landfills in Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. Officials also plan to increase the composting program to restaurants and food businesses—a piggy back on Mayor Bloomberg’s NYC Food Waste Challenge in which over 100 restaurants pledged to reduce 50 percent of their food waste through composting and other waste prevention methods. City officials hope to expand the program to the entire city by 2015 or 2016.
The composting program is set to accommodate apartment and condo dwellers as well who may worry about composting in cramped quarters and smaller kitchen spaces (not to mention fear of attracting New York’s insect population who might enjoy feeding on rotting foods). Of the 150,000 single-family homes who will participate in the program, 100 high-rise buildings will be given containers the size of picnic baskets to use for composting within their homes. Residents will then be able to deposit their compost into larger brown bins on the curb for pickup by sanitation trucks. More than 600 schools will participate in the program as well.