New York City proposes organics program expansion

New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia has announced a proposal to require additional commercial food establishments to separate organic waste.

The proposal is expected to increase food waste diversion by more than 50,000 tons per year, the sanitation department says.

Diverting this material from landfills to be used as a natural soil amendment through composting or as renewable energy through anaerobic digestion is a key component of the city’s goal of sending zero waste to landfills by 2030.

The New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) is expected to propose rules that would require certain types of businesses to separate and ensure the beneficial use of their organic waste, including:

  • food service establishments, such as restaurants, larger than 7,000 square feet;
  • chain food service establishments with 50 or more locations in New York City; and
  • retail food stores larger than 10,000 square feet.

Businesses covered by this proposal would be given the option to arrange for collection by a private hauler, transport organic waste themselves or manage it on-site using in-vessel composting or aerobic or anaerobic digestion systems, subject to registration with DSNY and compliance with the city’s sewer discharge regulations.

The proposed rules will be subject to a public hearing and comment period and would take effect six months after they are adopted. From that point, there would be a six-month grace period before fines are imposed.

To develop the new proposed rules, DSNY says it surveyed organics processing facilities, such as composting sites and anaerobic digestion facilities.