Reducing and diverting food waste is all the rage in cities these days, and New York is trying to become the organics diversion capital of the country. The city now has the largest curbside residential organics program in the country and recently announced plans to expand its commercial diversion requirements too. The results of this first phase culminated in many ways with the first-ever NYC Food Waste Fair hosted by the Foundation for New York’s Strongest and the city's Department of Sanitation (DSNY) — at the Brooklyn Expo Center on July 25.
In addition to a general feeling of excitement about how far this sector had come, there was also an undercurrent of discussion about the growing pains involved. Based on annual surveys of regional processing capacity, DSNY remains convinced that enough options are out there and the finances are working. Others in the industry see a more complex picture, with many facilities still located far from the city, and unable to accept the often contaminated material coming out of its businesses. DSNY moved to address this last summer by awarding an estimated $47 million in pre-processing contracts for residential material — with the added goal of improving commercial options — though more work remains.
For a deep dive into the capacity question, Waste Dive spoke to many attendees throughout the day and included five interviews in this latest episode. First up, DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia discusses the city’s agenda and outlook. Then, Ron Bergamini, CEO of Action Environmental Group, and Gregory Lettieri, CEO of Recycle Track Systems, talk about how this has worked from a collection perspective. Amanda Weeks, co-founder of Industrial/Organic, talks about the potential and limitations for new processing businesses. Nora Goldstein, editor of BioCycle Magazine, provides insight about where New York stacks up on a broader level and what opportunities lie ahead.
Sit back, relax and crank up the volume. This is Talkin' Trash with Waste Dive.