Bloomberg to NYC: Stop Tossing Out Food

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Food in landfills is responsible for about 16 percent of the nation’s methane emissions. Photo: Shutterstock/Christian De Araujo

A proposed bill in New York City would require large-scale food producers to recycle food waste. Photo: Shutterstock/Christian De Araujo

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has made plenty of waves with his crusades against super-size sodas, salt in restaurant food and junk food in vending machines. The next thing on his hit list is wasted food.

A bill could be introduced as early as this month that would ban food from city landfills. It would require hospitals, hotels, universities and other large-scale food producers to recycle food waste rather than dumping it. Today, city taxpayers are paying around $100 million annually to ship the food waste to out-of-state landfills or incinerators. And food waste accounts for about one-third of the city’s garbage, which adds up to 20,000 tons every day.

When a convenient option for recycling food waste is located nearby, it becomes less expensive to recycle it than dump it in landfills. Of course, the benefits are environmental as well: recycling food waste cuts down on greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Today more than 16 percent of the nation’s methane emissions come from food waste in landfills.

Eric Goldstein of the Natural Resources Defense Council praised the legislation, noting that it could encourage the building of additional food waste disposal facilities, something that could further cut the costs of recycling food while at the same time lowering the methane emissions from landfills.

Bloomberg’s legislation would expand a recently launched pilot project on public school food waste collection to include collection of organic waste from about 300 school lunchrooms by January, and would include 400 schools by the start of January 2015.