By Kim Robson
New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced the first ever “Food Waste Challenge” in apress release issued April 25th. The city produces more than 20,000 tons of garbage daily, and wasted food amounts to a full third of that volume. Of that wasted food, restaurants are responsible for 70%. That’s 4,620 TONS of wasted food going into NYC landfills every DAY, increasing greenhouse gas emissions and not feeding the hungry.
More rotting food equals more methane – one of the most harmful greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. Methane is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. The vast amount of food going to landfills significantly contributes to climate change. Here are some facts, according to the United Nations Environmental Programme:
The Food Waste Challenge will help the city’s PlaNYC goals to reduce the amount of solid organic waste going into landfills by 75% by the year 2030. Over a hundred of the city’s restaurants, including Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group, Blue Hill, Chipotle, Cleaver Co., Juice Generation, Le Bernardin, Momofuku, Pret-a-Manger, Union Square Hospitality Group, and ‘WichCraft, have agreed to participate through composting, recycling and other waste prevention strategies.
The city will provide restaurants with resources to help them train staff about composting best practices. They already have conducted “waste audits” to determine the amount of food waste theypreviously had been generating. They now will be measuring the amount of food waste being diverted from mixed trash. The restaurants have set a goal of cutting the amount of food waste they produce in half. They also will have access to helpful local experts and organizations.
The initiative builds on other organic waste programs that the City has developed, including a program in some Brooklyn and Manhattan public schools that has cut garbage those schools send to landfills by 38%. As well, it includes a residential organics recycling program to have begun in Staten Island in May of 2013. The Food Waste Challenge fits perfectly with this year’s World Environment Day theme, “Think-Eat-Save,” which addresses issues related to food waste.
“From franchises to farm-to-table restaurants, New York’s food industry is joining our efforts to cut waste and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to build a greener, greater New York,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Restaurants are a vital part of our economy and culture, and their participation in the Food Waste Challenge will help inform New Yorkers about sustainable practices and encourage their adoption.”“By diverting our food waste from landfills, New York City is taking an important step towards reducing harmful greenhouse gases and helping achieve the city’s PlaNYC goals,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn.
The Food Waste Challenge builds on other public-private partnerships New York City has launched to generate sustainable practices and meet the PlaNYC goals of decreasing waste, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and fighting climate change. Recently, Mayor Bloomberg announced that ten global corporations have joined the Carbon Challenge, pledging to reduce up to 40% of their greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade. City colleges, universities and hospitals have pledged to participate in the Carbon Challenge also. Universities have measured an overall reduction of nearly 13%, and hospitals have measured an average reduction of emissions by 6% in the past three years. Since the 2007 launch of PlaNYC, citywide emissions have fallen by 17% – already more than halfway to the goal of a 30% reduction by 2017.