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2013-05-23. Scraps and the City.

posted Jun 3, 2013, 10:59 PM by Alan Gould

For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 7. Excerpt: ...Food and other organic material (by which I mean yard waste and prunings) make up a whopping 25 percent of New York’s residential waste stream: that’s a huge amount to potentially divert from landfills and incinerators. Compost it instead and we’d be saving the city money (New York spends more than $330 million a year hauling waste to landfills) and avoiding the generation of the greenhouse gas methane, which is produced when organic material rots in the airless confines of a dump. Not too many people consider the biochemical fallout of their banana peels, but solid-waste managers across the nation are beginning to see organics collection as the next frontier, after recycling, in reducing their waste streams. Today, more than 160 American communities, serving more than 1.2 million households, have programs for separating organics from the trash -- an increase of more than 50 percent since 2009. ...Last month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a pilot program for collecting organic material from the curbsides of several Staten Island neighborhoods, a couple of homeless-services agencies in Brooklyn, three high-rises in Manhattan, and 72 schools in two boroughs. Should the two-year pilot succeed -- with high participation rates and the diversion of significant tonnages -- the program will roll out across the city.  ... may take some time for cranky, impatient New Yorkers to get used to the idea of segregating their food scraps, but ...If you make it convenient for people, and teach them that this is an important issue, they will eventually change their behavior.  ...Twenty years from now, ...people will shake their heads and say, ‘You were spending $100 million a year exporting food waste to landfills and allowing it to emit methane into the atmosphere? What were you thinking?’” ....  http://www.onearth.org/blog/scraps-and-the-city. Elizabeth Royte, On Earth Magazine NRDC.