It’s All About Garbage
Among the many initiatives of Mayor Bloomberg there is a
very quiet campaign to transform New York City’s waste stream. This campaign will no doubt have a broad
impact on the hospitality industry - the largest generator of food waste in the
City at nearly 320,000 tons of wet waste per year. To address this issue New York City has set a
goal to divert 75 percent of the City’s waste stream from landfills by 2030.
While the NYS Restaurant Association and the City had initially
addressed this issue through the voluntary NYC Food Waste Challenge, there are
now mandatory reductions being sought by the Mayor and City Council through an
organic separation bill – Intro. 1162-2013. This
bill would mandate a subset of restaurants, including chains, most catering
halls, and restaurants 7,000 square feet or larger, to engage in organic
Organic separation is commonly thought of as
composting. And the vision of composting
is an interesting one for restaurants.
It could lead to an economic panacea – reduced carting costs, cleaner
streets, and environmental benefits via less organic material in landfills.
More importantly, compostable material could become a commodity (like used
grease oil) that carters would pay operators for.
But with the visions of opportunity come the realities of
organic separation in one of the oldest and most expensive cities in America. Intro 1162 - 2013 seeks to have organic
separation implemented in covered restaurants by July 1, 2015. With no commercial composting facilities
within the City, and the nearest one in Delaware, there are serious concerns
about the feasibility of that implementation time frame, even if the three one-year
extensions built into the bill are utilized.
While composting is not the only solution for organic separation, other
technologies (such as anaerobic digesters) are cost-prohibitive for most
operators and adding new machines to already existing kitchens
raises serious concerns about space restrictions, redesign, and construction
Beyond organic separation, the City has quietly –
through rule making before the Business Integrity Commission – sought to raise
commercial carting rates by up to fifteen percent. While most restaurants are not even near the
current rate cap set by the Business Integrity Commission for carting costs,
there will undoubtedly be a raise in carting costs for restaurants in the near
future, especially if organic separation is mandated.
Separately, outgoing New York City
Councilwoman Reyna, a long-time ally of Speaker Christine Quinn, has introduced
a bill (Intro. 1170-2013)
that would dramatically reduce the transfer station capacity in the City.
This bill has been revised and is expected to pass the
Council shortly. If passed, this bill
could lead to a large increase in your garbage removal costs within the next
two years. The NYS Restaurant
Association was the only association to oppose this bill and the rate increase.
If you could be impacted by the organic separation bill, you
should consider how you would implement such separation in both front and back of
house operations. Where would additional
bins be placed, how many additional bins would you need, and how often would
you need a separate organic waste pick-up from your carter? As to opposing the other quiet increases on
your bottom-line, make sure to keep supporting the NYS Restaurant Association,
who alone stands on the front line to challenge these numerous regulations and
laws that will impact your operations.