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New York City Council Set to Vote on Visionary Legislation to Spur More Sustainable Food Waste Disposal Practices in NYC Homes, Schools and Apartment Buildings

Eric Goldstein

Posted September 12, 2013 in Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably

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The New York City Council is scheduled to vote today on important legislation that would lock in major environmental advances in the collection of food scraps and yard waste in the nation’s largest city.

The bill would insure that the newly announced organics pilot projects initiated by the Bloomberg Administration will continue -- and indeed expand -- in 2014 and 2015 regardless of who takes over after Mayor Michael Bloomberg leaves office at the end of this year.

Under the legislation, the residential organic waste pilot project on Staten Island -- in which the city is separately collecting food scraps from more than 1,000 single family homes and sending those organic materials to a nearby composting facility -- would continue through at least July 2015.  Three similar pilot projects would be started in other boroughs during 2014, with the goal of expanding the voluntary program to a total of 100,000 households by June 2014.

In addition, the legislation would expand the recently launched public school food waste collection pilot project by directing that collection of organic wastes from school lunchrooms be implemented in at least 300 schools across at least three boroughs by January 2014 (and 400 schools in all five boroughs by January 2015).

The proposed legislation -- sponsored by Council Members Rose, Koo, Koppell, Palma, Vallone and Brewer -- would also provide for expansion of food waste collection service to multi-family residential buildings seeking such services, provided these buildings are located on school food waste collection routes. 

Last but not least, the bill would require the Sanitation Department to complete a study that identifies ways to optimize the use of existing community-based composting operations and strategies to expand community composting in all five boroughs.

This forward-looking legislation could help transform the city’s waste disposal operation by shifting it to more sustainable practices that save city taxpayer dollars.  Food waste and yard waste account for more than 25% of the city’s residential waste stream – more than any other waste category.  City taxpayers now pay roughly 100 million dollars a year to ship such wastes to out-of-state landfills or incinerators. Thus, turning the city’s organic waste into compost and energy generation is both environmentally sound and economically sensible.

We thank City Council Speaker Chris Quinn and Sanitation and Solid Waste Committee Chair Letitia James, along with Council staffers Jared Hova and Daniel Avery, for their leadership in advancing this legislation.  

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Legislation expected to pass today in the City Council will insure that forward-looking pilot projects for NYC collection of food scraps and yard waste from private homes, schools and apartment houses will expand in 2014 and 2015.

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