NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Michael Bloomberg is planning to expand the city's composting program citywide — and eventually require all New Yorkers to separate their food scraps, according to published reports.
Bloomberg, who launched a voluntary curbside compost pickup program on Staten Island this year, will expand the pilot program to the rest of the city by 2015 or 2016, The New York Times reported Sunday.
The program would be voluntary at the start but could eventually become mandatory, with residents who don't separate their food scraps subject to fines similar to those doled out to residents who don't recycle, according to the Times.
Each year, the city sends around 1.2 million tons of food waste to landfills, costing the city about $100 million, the mayor has said. As part of the pilot program on Staten Island, residents were given a third trash container to dispose of organic waste that then gets picked up with regular trash.
Bloomberg has been making strides recently to expand the city's recycling efforts. In April, the Department of Sanitation began accepting "rigid" plastics — like takeout food containers, toys and CDs — for recycling for the first time.
The mayor's efforts come after several years of steadily declining recycling rates in the city.
With Bloomberg leaving office at the end of the year, the future of the composting plan will be in the hands of his successor.