Mayor Bloomberg Announces More than 2,500 Tons of Food Waste Diverted from Landfills in First Six Months of Food Waste Challenge

November 22, 2013

More Than 100 Restaurants Participated in the Program; City to Expand Program Beyond Restaurants to Include Hotels, Stadiums and Other Large Producers of Food Waste

More Than 25 Percent of Food Waste Diversion has been Achieved Through Donation to City Food Banks

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced that the more than 100 restaurants participating in the Food Waste Challenge have diverted more than 2,500 tons of food waste from landfills in the first six months of the program. The Food Waste Challenge, a voluntary program to reduce greenhouse-gas producing landfill waste, has produced the City’s largest single source of food waste diversion. Already, more than 50 of the participating restaurants have achieved the program’s goal of diverting 50 percent of their food waste. The program is part of the City’s efforts to meet the PlaNYC goal of diverting 75 percent of all solid waste from landfills by 2030. The Food Waste Challenge supports other organic waste initiatives in the City, including the Department of Sanitation’s organic waste collection, which is now reaching more than 30,000 homes and 200 public schools, as well as passage of residential composting legislation. Going forward, businesses will have the opportunity to further increase food waste diversion and cut costs, as the City has partnered with a startup to create a cloud-based food-waste tracking tool that all Food Waste Challenge participants can use for free. Based on the success of the Food Waste Challenge other large businesses including JetBlue, Yankee Stadium and Brooklyn Flea will be stepping up their waste diversion efforts. The City-led expansion of the Food Waste Challenge and continued development of innovative tools will provide New York businesses the resources to significantly accelerate food waste diversion.

“New York City’s food industry has demonstrated that substantially cutting waste by diverting it to productive uses is not only possible, but achievable,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Restaurants are a critical part of the City’s economy and their commitment to the Food Waste Challenge is critical to building a greater, greener New York.”

“Over the last six months the restaurant industry has tackled food waste by diverting more than 2,500 tons of waste from landfills,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway. “The evidence is clear: recycling food waste can work in New York City and the days of burying millions of tons of it in the ground are quickly coming to an end. Working together, the City and the private sector can put the systems in place to make food recycling accessible to all New Yorkers.”

The City is working with a startup to launch a cloud-based software platform called “MintScraps”. The program will help restaurants, supermarkets, cafes and other business track and visualize their waste streams to discover potential savings. By being able to quickly understand the composition of waste and evaluate wasteful locations businesses are able to save money. “MintScraps” also provides a marketplace where businesses can post leftover food for pickup and non-profits and food banks can search for food to pick up.

“We are proud to be working with the city, first as a NYC BigApps competitor and now as a Food Waste Challenge partner, to customize our software platform in order to help businesses identify and achieve cost-savings through active waste monitoring,” said Tony Vu, Co-Founder and CEO of MintScraps. “By using technology to help businesses engage in waste monitoring efforts, MintScraps can help businesses become more conscientious about waste reduction. We applaud the Mayor for supporting technological innovation and promoting efficient food waste management.”

“New York’s restaurants are the finest in the world and they now have the opportunity to continue being environmental leaders with the expansion of the City’s Food Waste Challenge,” said Melissa Autilio Fleischut, New York State Restaurant Association President and CEO. “The Food Waste Challenge proves that sending less to landfills is good for both business and the planet. The New York State Restaurant Association looks forward to working with the City to advance this initiative in a responsible way that works for everyone.”

"Since its inception in 2009, Yankee Stadium has been the centerpiece for the New York Yankees commitment to the goal of food waste diversion,” said Doug Behar, Vice President, Stadium Operations, New York Yankees. “With organic waste collection, compost bins, and an expanded use of compostable food service ware throughout the stadium, we are embracing the vital role we play in sustaining and enhancing our environment. Doing our part is an impactful way to educate future generations on the importance of stewardship, which is why we welcome the chance to work with the city to become an MVP of recycling.”

“JetBlue is New York's Hometown Airline and sustainability is a fundamental part of our culture,” said Sophia Mendelsohn, JetBlue's Head of Sustainability. “Based on the benefits we have seen from composting at JetBlue's JFK Terminal 5, we support New York City's organic waste efforts and look forward to working with the Food Waste Challenge to achieve deeper diversion from landfill.”

“Sustainable waste management is something that makes good environmental and business sense,” said Herve Houdre, Chairman, Sustainable Hospitality Committee Regional Director and General Manager, InterContinental New York Barclay, “Using on-site organic waste processing technologies and implementing a recycling program, we have already achieved more than 70% waste diversion at the InterContinental New York Barclay. We hope more businesses will adopt similar practices.”

“The businesses in the food waste challenge are a perfect example of local businesses merging sound business practices with sound environmental practices,” said Ron Gonen, Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Sanitation for Recycling and Sustainability.

Introduced legislation on commercial organics is designed to lower the cost of organics collection by 20% by driving development of localized organic waste processing capacity. The bill would require that organic waste be disposed and collected separately for covered establishments and sent to a compost facility for conversion to compost, or anaerobic digester for conversion to renewable energy. The bill aims to achieve high impact through targeted action. Less than 5% of the city's largest food waste generators, only those generating more than one ton of food waste per week, would be impacted, but 30% of commercial organic waste, more than 250,000 tons annually, would be captured. This will drive a 12% reduction in the City's greenhouse gas emissions from commercial waste, in addition to providing valuable fertilizer for the region and clean, renewable energy for New York residents.

“The proposed commercial organics legislation, if passed, will transform how New York businesses manage their waste,” said Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “All New Yorkers stand to benefit from this important initiative, which will dramatically reduce landfilling and help achieve PlaNYC goals for environmental health and quality of life.”

“It's not complicated to keep food waste out of landfills- compost and food donation are two easy options,” said Mario Batali, chef and entrepreneur. “The Food Waste Challenge is helping businesses do exactly this, which is why we have been involved since day one. We applaud the Mayor for taking steps to make composting the norm for New York businesses.”

“We wholeheartedly support the proposed legislation, which would strengthen the marketplace for the city’s food scraps and yard wastes. By stimulating investment in new facilities that will accept organic wastes, the Mayor and the Council are wisely advancing more sustainable waste practices and helping to reduce trash disposal costs over time,” said Eric A. Goldstein, New York City Environment Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The success of the Food Waste Challenge builds on other public-private partnerships the City has launched to generate sustainable practices and help meet the PlaNYC goals to decrease waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.

Contact: Marc La Vorgna / Jake Goldman (212) 788-2958