Bloomberg spearheads NYC composting push

Bloomberg spearheads NYC composting push

By Dan Leif, Resource Recycling

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg earlier this week announced a plan to bring food composting to a bigger swath of city residents, a push that is the latest in a cluster of recycling initiatives put forth by Bloomberg during his final year in office. It also places America's most populous city in the middle of the nation's ongoing expansion of composting.

"We're seeing more and more communities looking to add composting to their cadre of opportunities to reduce their waste streams," Lori Scozzafava, executive director of the U.S. Composting Council, told Resource Recycling. "I think it's really simply following a new trend that we're seeing."

The new composting plan in the Big Apple expands a pilot program that has been in place in several of the city's neighborhoods of late. According to the New York Times, strong participation in that project spurred the city to expand it to include 150,000 homes and more than 100 high-rise buildings by next year. In addition, the city plans to contract a composting facility to take in 100,000 tons of food scraps each year — equal to 10 percent of New York's total food waste. And within the next year, officials will be looking to construct a local plant capable of converting food scraps into biogas.

The expanded composting program will start off as voluntary for included residents, but according to the New York Times story, sorting food scraps from other trash may become mandatory in the coming years.

It's worth noting that the mayor has also recently eyed other arenas when it comes to transforming Gotham's garbage. Bloomberg has said the city aims to double its recycling rate to 30 percent by 2017. In April, the city added rigid plastics to its curbside recycling program, and city officials have recently hinted at the possibility of bans on plastic bags and expanded polystyrene containers.

"[The] key is to connect, as much as possible, these kinds of bans with initiatives like food composting," said Nora Goldstein, editor of BioCycle. "In Italy, the country tied a plastic bag ban with introduction of compostable shopping bags that households can use to set out their source separated organics. These are opportunities both for outreach and education."

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