An important part of reducing waste is finding out exactly what it is that’s being wasted, and there’s no better way than to have a good old-fashioned waste sort. As part of the New York City Mayor’s Food Waste Challenge, Global Green USA co-sponsored a waste sorting event earlier this month, along with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability and Great Forest, to find out what’s in those trash bags coming out of NYC’s restaurants.
The waste sort is the latest step in a months-long collaborative process between Global Green USA and the NYC Mayor’s Office, during which Global Green staff helped to inform the structure and methodology for the Food Waste Challenge, as well as recruiting participant restaurants. But of all the many steps in this process, this was by far the smelliest.
The sort took place at Action Environmental Group’s new materials recovery facility (MRF) in the Bronx. Waste was collected from ten restaurants in NYC on Friday night and brought to the MRF. On Saturday, staff from participating organizations and volunteers came to the MRF and spent hours sorting the restaurants’ waste into various categories including food waste, recyclables, and trash. Each bag collected from the restaurants was weighed individually then put on a sorting table and ripped open. Volunteers then sorted the contents into various buckets for each category and weighed the contents of each bucket. The bins of compostable food waste were weighed then the contents were dumped on the ground so that volunteers could pull out any contaminants, which were weighed.
The data collected at the waste sort will be used by the Mayor’s Office to create a baseline waste characterization for restaurants participating in the Food Waste Challenge, and will provide valuable insight into what is in restaurants’ waste streams in NYC.