Recent news and developments from the waste and environmental services industry.

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NYC food-related businesses must recycle organic waste

The New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) required food-related businesses to begin recycling food scraps and other organic waste effective July 31. This date comes at the end of a two-year warning period, which was extended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While we extended the grace period for a year at the height of the pandemic, city life is back, and we must now enforce this important law that will help keep our neighborhoods cleaner and greener,” New York Sanitation Commissioner Jessica S. Tisch says.

According to DSNY, businesses can comply with the law by arranging for the collection of organics by a private carter, transporting the material themselves or managing it on-site through in-vessel composting, which is subject to regulation by the department and compliance with the city’s sewer discharge regulations.

After conducting a survey of regional processing facilities in 2019, DSNY determined sufficient processing capacity exists to manage the organic waste of the remaining businesses covered by rule under Local Law 146 of 2013. It proposed new rules that were adopted Jan. 31, 2020.

Beginning July 31, 2020, the following NYC businesses were required to source-separate staff-handled organic waste:

  • food service establishments (such as restaurants, delis and coffee shops) having 7,000 to 14,999 square feet;
  • chain food service establishments with two to 99 NYC locations with a combined floor area of 8,000 square feet or more;
  • food service establishments in hotels with 100-149 guest rooms;
  • retail food stores (such as supermarkets and grocery stores) of 10,000 to 24,999 square feet;
  • chain retail food stores with three or more NYC locations with 10,000 square feet or more of combined floor area;
  • food preparation locations of 6,000 square feet or more;
  • catering establishments hosting on-site events that are attended by more than 100 people; and
  • temporary public events with more than 500 attendees.

Organic waste includes all food scraps (including fruit and plant stems, meat, bones and dairy products, whether raw or cooked), plant trimmings, food-soiled paper and certified compostable products.

If businesses are using certified compostable products, DSNY recommends research to determine whether these products are accepted by their carters or organics processing methods. Businesses that use these products also must make sure signs and labels clearly instruct what materials need to be separated.

DSNY says diverting this material is a key component of the city’s goal of sending zero waste to landfills.

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