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A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

Sunday, March 10, 2019

We all know that all to often an excessive amount of food in the United States is wasted and ends up in landfills. Here’s some good news, taken from a recent Waste Age newsletter: New York City is doing something about it. With it being our largest city, I think that’s a great place to start and set an example.

The article started, “The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has begun enforcement of a city law requiring some larger restaurants, chain restaurants and grocery stores to separate their food waste from their trash and ensure it is beneficially reused, not sent to a landfill. The fine for a violation starts at $250.”

Food waste ending up in landfills releases the harmful greenhouse gas Methane. This gas is a major contributor to climate change. Fortunately, that same food waste can be turned into compost or renewable energy instead. And some may even be able to be used as a food source.

This new law should divert about 50,000 tons of food waste from the New York City’s landfills every year. As a spokesperson for the DSNY explained, “We all need to do our part to make New York City healthy and green, and this includes food-related businesses that must reduce, reuse or recycle their food scraps and food waste.

“Over the past year, our outreach staff has visited covered business, sent mailers and otherwise helped them get ready for this law. At this point, we are confident they will be able to succeed and meet, or exceed, our expectations.”

Included businesses which come under the new rules are: 1)Restaurants with a floor area of at least 15,000 square feet; 2) Chain restaurants with 100 or more locations in the city that operate under common ownership or control, are individually franchised outlets of a parent business or do business under the same corporate name; and 3) Food retailers (grocery stores) having a floor area space of at least 25,000 square feet.

To meet the requirements of the new law, covered businesses can hire a private carter, self-transport or process their food scraps on site as long as the material goes for beneficial use, such as for use as compost or in anaerobic digestion. Or if appropriate, they may also donate food to a third-party charity or food bank, sell or donate the food to a farmer for feedstock, or sell or donate meat by-products to a rendering company.

Although the new law took effect in August 2018, enforcement of it was delayed until Feb. 15, 2019. This was to allow time for education and outreach. To help with this, over the past year, DSNY staff completed around 2,000 site visits to affected businesses. Multiple mailers were also sent to affected businesses. Additionally, staff is offering businesses an opportunity to attend semi-monthly trainings, request educational site visits and/or watch an educational video series.

They also; provide sample signs, labels and electronic copies of notices in multiple languages. They work with the NYC Department of Small Business Services, Chambers of Commerce, Business Improvements Districts and other organizations to educate businesses in all five boroughs. As I commented at the beginning of this article, I believe this effort should provide an example and possible format for other large cities.

Till next week, do have a great one...

--Ollie is a local citizen concerned with the environment and helping others. A retired Air Force fighter and instructor pilot, he is a graduate of Leadership San Marcos and received his degrees at Texas State University where he worked on staff before totally retiring. For questions or comments, he invites you to call him at 512-353-7432 or e-mail omaier@txstate.edu.