A bill being reviewed by the City Council would mandate a pilot organics collection program in some buildings that house city agencies. “Our public servants should serve as a model to propel a cultural shift on organics recycling throughout the city,” said Public Advocate Letitia James during a City Council hearing Tuesday on the bill she proposed with City Councilman Robert Holden.
The current bins located at the seat of New York City government aren’t well used, according to City Councilman Antonio Reynoso, who chairs the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management. “City Hall, we heard, does a terrible job of putting organics in the bin and doing what they are supposed to,” Reynoso told Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia during the hearing.
“Perhaps we have to do some education at City Hall to deepen our engagement,” Garcia responded. “It’s possible everyone is eating everything. It’s unlikely, but possible.”
Officials later pointed out that little — if any — food preparation actually takes place at City Hall. Staffers for the City Council and the Mayor’s office either bring their own food or purchase takeout for meals.
New Yorkers have been slow to embrace organics waste collection despite the addition of curbside pickup and drop-off sites in some neighborhoods. An ambitious expansion plan is on hold while the city works out kinks in routes and collection truck use for the program. “Our intention is to get back on track,” Garcia said.
Organics, such as food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard waste, account for 34 percent of waste collected by city sanitation trucks. Keeping it out of the regular trash is part of the city’s long-term plan to send zero waste to landfills by 2030.