NYC Passes Historic Food Waste Bill

NYC’s new law is expected to divert hundreds of thousands of tons of this waste – a huge positive climate impact.  Yesterday, New York City Council passed an historic bill that mandates the recovery of food waste through composting, anaerobic digestion, food donation, or other means for the City’s largest food waste generators. The bill’s passage is a huge step forward for New York City and the world in facing climate change, as the recovery of commercial food waste will significantly mitigate the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Global Green is proud to have played a major role in this successful effort.

This legislative milestone comes one year after Global Green’s Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR) hosted a panel on Northeast region food waste landfill bans with participation by state agencies from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. The panel provided a platform for Connecticut and Massachusetts to present their food waste ban programs underway to a New York City audience for the first time, and helped build momentum for yesterday’s historic passage.

As a result of this work, the Mayor’s Office and the New York City Council asked Global Green to provide expert testimony at a City Council Committee meeting on the case for food waste recovery. Global Green NYC Office and CoRR Director Matt de la Houssaye testified on the importance of food waste recovery as it relates to climate change, resiliency, and economics. He also highlighted the work the other states are doing, and urged New York City to join the regional movement towards greater food waste recovery.

Volunteers weighing food waste during Global Green's Co-Sponsored Waste Sort for NYC’s Mayor’s Food Waste Challenge.  As a result of the challenge, city restaurants and institutions have already composted 2,500 tons of organic waste.

Landfilling food waste is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. To put this into perspective, landfilling one ton of food waste results in the equivalent greenhouse impact of commuting across the entire Eastern seaboard from New York City to Florida. Large grocers can generate as much as a half a ton of food waste each day. When laws mandate food waste separation for the largest waste generators, route density increases, sizable amounts of food waste can be collected per stop, collection costs decrease, and overall participation grows.

NYC’s new law is expected to divert hundreds of thousands of tons of food waste – a huge positive climate impact.  With Super Storm Sandy still a recent memory, there is a true sense of urgency in New York to stop releasing methane by burying food scraps in landfills. We’d like to congratulate the New York City Council and Mayor Bloomberg for their bold leadership in passing this law.

To view Global Green’s testimony from last month’s NYC City Council hearing on the bill click here.