Organic waste or food waste is stored on landfill sites. A program started across Europe and North America that focused on the collection of municipal food and depositing the trash on these landfills. In New York, one of the most populated cities of the world, this task is a true nightmare for officials. The Department of Sanitation gathers 10,000 tons of waste everyday and stores it on landfill sites. But another new technique to get rid of the dumpster trash is in its pilot stage in this sprawling city.
The Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, said that food waste was the city’s ‘final recycling frontier’. These municipal composting efforts have been going on in many European countries using advanced technologies. In 2011, around 15% of municipal waste was composted. Now, around 40% of the waste in the European Union is recycled or composited. The great thing about compositing is that it recycles all the organic waste into fertilizers.
Not only do the landfill sites of food waste occupy huge areas of land, they also decompose and release methane gas as the byproduct. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more powerful, in other words, more hazardous, than carbon dioxide. According to one study by the EPA, landfills are the 3rd major source of methane gas production in the United States. This shows that the benefits of recycling food waste would be vast.
This is what New York is trying to do – reducing the amount of food waste that goes onto landfills by composting programs. As of now, one neighborhood of Staten Island and 100 city schools in Manhattan are participating in the pilot composting program. There is anticipation that the program can easily be spread to the entire nation, if the pilot is a success.
San Francisco already started a composting program in the mid 2000’s. They started with small businesses and restaurants and plan to achieve a 0% waste in landfills by the year 2020. Seattle and Portland are also following similar plans.
New York is still questioning where they should bring all the collected organic waste, as there is no composting building yet. But a request for a separate plant is in progress. Eric Goldstein, one of the senior attorneys of the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York stated that a time will come when there will be almost nothing left in the garbage can!