Businesses in D.C. could have to start composting their food scraps under a bill introduced this week in the D.C. Council. That’s just one of the items in the legislation aimed at drastically reducing waste in the District.

On many environmental issues, D.C. is seen as a national leader — for example, the District has the most green buildings per capita and per square foot of any U.S. city and has one of the strongest clean energy mandates in the nation.

But on recycling and composting: “We’re falling behind,” said D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3). “Right now, I should tell you, our numbers are pretty poor.”

Five years ago, the council passed a law with a “zero waste” goal of diverting at least 80% of trash in the city out of the landfill or incinerator by 2032. The city hasn’t made much progress, though: D.C.’s current rate of waste diversion is just 23% — well below the national average of roughly 35%. “There are progressive places like Montgomery County that are at 60%, San Francisco at 80%,” Cheh points out.

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