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NYC Mulls Food Waste Ban

bloombergComposting, turning food waste into energy or otherwise recycling it may soon be mandatory for large-scale producers of food waste in New York City, reports Crain’s New York Business.

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration is pushing a bill that would ban food waste from hotels, hospitals, universities and other large-scale producers. It could be introduced next month and approved before Bloomberg (pictured) and city council speaker Christine Quinn leave office at the end of the year, the publication reports.

Any law would not take effect until 2015, and only then if food waste processing facilities could handle the vast amounts of food, according to Crain’s.

The mayor’s office did not respond to an inquiry by Crain’s. A city council spokeswoman said that councilmembers had been made aware of the plan but had not yet seen a bill or enough detail for the speaker’s office to comment.

Food waste currently comprises one-third of the city’s more than 20,000 tons of daily refuse. The transportation costs are high for organic waste because the waste weighs a lot and processing facilities are relatively few and far between. However, if there is a nearby option, the costs of recycling food are generally cheaper than dumping it in landfills, according to Crain’s.

Eric Goldstein, a senior attorney at environmental advocacy group the Natural Resources Defense Council called the plans a “thoughtful, incremental” approach to the problem that the country’s largest producers of food-waste are forced to pay to send food waste to landfills or incinerators, the publication reports.

In April, New York City launched the Food Waste Challenge, an initiative aimed at reducing the amount of food waste sent to landfills by restaurants. More than 100 restaurants are participating in the challenge.

New York is not alone in its efforts to reduce food waste. Starting in July 2014, large swathes of commercial food waste in Massachusetts will will be converted into energy via anaerobic digesters, according to plans proposed by Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration.

The Massachusetts commercial food waste ban will help the state reduce the volume it sends to landfill and will be in effect for any organization that sends a minimum of 1 ton of organic food waste per week. Under the new rules, such companies will be required to donate or re-purpose the food.

In August, Boston began piloting its first public composting program, inviting residents to drop off compostable food scraps for free at three city farmers’ markets.

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