New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who famously tried to ban the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks, is now behind a citywide composting program, The New York Times’ Maxie Santiago reports.
Composting is the decompostion of organic, or once-living, materials like vegetable and fruit scraps, lawn trimmings, or shredded newspaper under controlled settings. The finished product — compost — looks like soil and can be used in gardens, parks, and ball fields to improve soil quality.
A composting program also reduces the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills by requiring residents to separate food waste and other organic materials, like houseplants or paper towels, from regular trash.
New York City would be following in the footsteps of less dense cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland that have already adopted curbside composting programs.
The impact can be vast: San Francisco, the first major U.S. city to require composting, has collected more than one million tons of organic waste since the program started more than 16 years ago. Composting efforts, combined with recycling, allow the city to divert close to 80 per cent of total waste generated each year from landfills.
New Yorkers who want to compost can do so now through neighbourhood-based composting sites set up by Department of Sanitation throughout the five boroughs. Residents buy a special compost bin to store their kitchen scraps and garden trimmings, which can be hauled to the closest drop-off location. That waste is turned into compost or mulch at Sanitation Compost Sites and then distributed for use in gardens or parks.
Bloomberg’s program would be voluntary at first, but the goal is to make it mandatory across the entire city within a few years. Around 125,000 homes, split up evenly among the boroughs, will initially participate.
The composting program works similarly to the current paper and plastic recycling program except that residents would collect materials like apple cores, coffee grounds, leaves, and eggshells in a special brown bin. The bin is placed outside with the other trash cans and picked up by sanitation trucks on Saturdays.
More than one million tons of food waste ends up in the city’s landfills each yearIf residents can warm up to the idea of keeping a container of old food in their apartment, “the residential food-waste program would represent the biggest expansion of recycling efforts since the city began separating paper, metal and glass in 1989,” the Times writes.
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