HOST 1: On Wednesday, Mayor de Blasio announced an ambitious plan to reduce New York City’s waste output to landfills by 90 percent in the next 15 years. A big part of that is turning household organic waste into compost, instead of sending it to landfills.
HOST 2: Tyler Daniels takes a look at current composting culture in the city, and what it will take to turn the mayor’s trash talk into a sustainable reality.
Organics are foods and other waste items that are capable of naturally turning into soil, through a process called composting. But right now, the majority of New York’s food waste goes directly into the trash – to rot away in landfills.
New York does offer the possibility of disposing of this waste in a greener manner – but this requires residents saving their egg shells, banana peels and coffee grounds and dropping them off at a disposal site. Like the one at the green market on West 97th street this morning.
[Play sound of composting at site]
[Salwin] “This is my first compost.”
Greg Salwins says as he dumps his small bag of food waste into the large brown bin.
“I think that reducing waste is always a good thing.”
Rachel Landsberg is a composting regular. She freezes her food waste in her Upper West Side apartment so she can drop it off here.
Landsberg: “I really love it. I love being able to use the food scraps that I’m not using and bring them back to the earth.”
But she says the city could make the process a lot easier for its residents.
Landsberg: I’d rather it be done by the city every few days”
And Mayor Bill de Blasio says he’s trying to improve the composting system
de Blasio: With composting, I think there’s a lot of ways we can teach people, make it simpler, make it better. I think a lot of people as they experience it, find it’s a great thing. ”
On Wednesday he announced as part of his OneNYC plan that the city will be vastly expand its program collecting household food waste and depositing it at composting sites. The goal – to reduce landfill waste by 90 percent.
Bonhotal: “It won’t be easy. 90 percent is a tremendous goal for any city.”
That’s Jean Bonhotal, the director of Cornell University’s Waste Management Institute. She highlights special considerations for implementing a large scale composting program in a city like New York – as the city provides composting services to millions of new homes.
Bonhotal: “there are too many organics in new york city for new york city to compost all of it in the city. So there are going to have to be some ways to do it outside of the city.”
The city plans to offer these services to everyone by 2018. And in his announcement, Mayor de Blasio showed he takes composting personally.
de Blasio: “I am a composting trainer…I just get a little crazy when I see white paper in the trashcan…And at Gracie Mansion we have all the bins laid out in a row in our kitchen, and everything needs to go in the right bin.”
For more information about composting in your neighborhood, New Yorkers can go to NYC.gov/organics.
Tyler Daniels, Columbia Radio News.