NEW YORK CITY — Large scale food vendors in hotels, ball parks and arenas would be required to separate their organic waste under a city plan to stop sending the material to landfills.
Food and other organic material constitute a third of the city's commercial waste, city officials said. The organic waste will be used to create soil through composting or to create natural gas.
“The commercial establishments in today’s proposal are already recycling plastics and metals, and by additionally recycling organic material, they will significantly contribute to reducing our City’s waste stream – leading the path to send Zero Waste to landfills by 2030," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.
Up to 50,000 tons per year of food waste is expected to be diverted under the new proposal that will have a public comment period and hearing. The rule wouldn't take effect until six months after it was adopted and it would be another six months before fines could be issued.
Business establishments affected by the new rule could hire a firm to collect the organic waste or do onsite composting.
Under its One New York plan the city pledged to send no waste to landfills and to reduce waste disposal by 90 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
Restaurants, grocery stores, fast food establishments and caterers are exempt from the current proposal but the de Blasio administration would like to have them added in the future as organic waste processing expands.
Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said that restaurants, hotels and other food service establishments send more than 1 million tons of organic waste to landfills each year.
“This proposal jumpstarts what could be the most significant program in city history to dispose of New York’s food scraps more sustainably," Eric Goldstein, NYC Environment Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. "It sensibly proposes to phase in implementation of the composting requirements as additional regional capacity to handle these organics comes on line."