NYC To Launch Citywide Compost Program

In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites

A roundup of news clippings we're reading that affect the way we eat.


[Photograph: London Permaculture]

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced plans to roll out a citywide composting plan in coming months. Bloomberg is known for his health policy initiatives, such as the city's new bike share program and his rather infamous "soda ban." The composting program would encourage and incentivize New Yorkers to separate their food scraps from landfill garbage, which Bloomberg claims would save the city millions of dollars annually. It will begin in 2014 for about 150,000 households across the city, and will likely become mandatory for New Yorkers by 2016.

Currently, New York puts about 1.2 million tons of food waste into landfills annually. Bloomberg aims to reduce this amount by expanding educational programming about composting and providing small composting bins for homes. Residents could then empty the small bins into larger brown bins, and compost would be picked up along with trash and recycling. Though Bloomberg will leave office at the end of this year, two promising mayoral candidates, Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio, are enthusiastic about the program.

Other cities, including San Francisco and Seattle, already have strong citywide composting programs in place. San Francisco collects about 600 tons of compost each day. The system isn't perfect— experts estimate that about half of San Francisco's landfill trash could be further sorted into either recycling or compost bins— but residents of the city are proud to participate in lowering their environmental impact.

Many New Yorkers are hesitant about composting because they fear household compost could begin to smell before the next trash pick-up and attract animals. But a well-balanced compost shouldn't get too smelly. And some experts believe that composting could actually reduce the city's vermin problem. Bloomberg plans to continue testing smaller-scale composting solutions across the city to see how the program effects trash odors and the prevalence of rodents in residential neighborhoods.

Do any of you live in city's with composting programs? Are you optimistic about NYC's plan?

About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her other work can be found at her website.