As part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s goal to turn New York City into a modern Utopia, his administration has implemented a plan to make food composting mandatory by 2015.
In his State of the City address, Bloomberg called food composting New York City’s final recycling frontier.
The program is currently under test with an unexpectedly high amount of residents voluntarily participating. By next year, about 5 percent of the city’s households and 600 schools will contribute 100,000 tons of food waste to a composting plant — helping to convert the waste to biogas for electric power.
Stale bread, chicken bones, potato peels and other waste will be disposed of in picnic basket-sized bins in residential homes. Then, the contents will be dumped into brown bins on city curbs for sanitation trucks to pick up.
“It’s revolutionary for New York,” said Eric Goldstein, a senior lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “If successful, pretty soon there’ll be very little trash left for homeowners to put in their old garbage cans.”
Bloomberg's critics have often faulted him for his weak enforcement of recycling, considering the city only recycles about 15 percent of all recyclable material. However, with his term coming to an end, it seems Bloomberg’s final campaign will be to prove critics wrong.
In the past 12 months, the Sanitation Department has issued 75,216 summonses to home and building owners who neglected to recycle. In the upcoming fiscal year, officials expect that number to increase after the department deployed extra officials to regulate recycling.
Bloomberg summarized the benefits of the program best when he said the recycled waste would be good for the environment and for taxpayers.
“We bury 1.2 million tons of food waste in landfills every year at a cost of nearly $80 per ton,” Bloomberg said, referencing the city’s $336 million trash disposal bill. “That waste can be used as fertilizer or converted to energy at a much lower price.”
Top Democratic candidates running for Bloomberg’s spot are expected to continue the program.