New Yorkers who don’t separate food scraps could be fined soon

The inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor may soon read, “Give us your guns, your cigarettes, your Big Gulps and your garbage.”

bloomberg head
Michael Bloomberg: Garbageman of the year?

Not content with regulating the sale of sugary drinks, smoking in public parks and the exercise of Second Amendment rights, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now setting his sights on your garbage.

“Hizzoner” now wants to get into the compost business and he needs New Yorkers’ garbage to do it, according to The New York Times.

The city reported unexpectedly high participation with voluntary pilot programs, and now wants to take it a step further. It will hire a compost plant that can process up to 10 percent of the city’s food scraps — about 100,000 tons per year.

But that’s only the beginning. Within a few years, Bloomberg wants to take it from a voluntary to a mandatory program. The city will then look for a company willing to build a plant that can not only turn all of the city’s food scraps into compost, but also capture the biogas generated by the process to generate electricity.

“This is going to be really transformative,” Caswell F. Holloway IV said. “You want to get on a trajectory where you’re not sending anything to landfills.” Holloway is a New York City deputy mayor.

That’s where mayor loses me — not the biogas part, but the mandatory part.

One reason for the city’s pilot programs success is the fact that they were purely voluntary. Take a program from voluntary to mandatory and people start naturally dragging their heels. This can be critical for a program that depends on garbage separation such as this.

Neither meat scraps nor cooked food can be used in compost production. Other types of garbage to avoid are fish and poultry, cat litter, dog feces and disposable diapers, according to Chicken feces, however, is okay, although I doubt we’ll find many pet chickens in the Big Apple.

It’s difficult enough to get people to accurately separate plastic, glass, aluminum and paper when they choose to recycle. Now the city wants them to do the same with garbage?

“New Yorkers who do not separate their food scraps could be subject to fines,” according to the Times. The report continued:

It remains to be seen whether New Yorkers will embrace the program, given that some may cringe at keeping a container of potentially malodorous waste in a typically cramped urban kitchen, even if it is supposed to be emptied regularly.

The city has historically had a relatively mediocre record in recycling, diverting only about 15 percent of its total residential waste away from landfills.

The city issued 75,216 summonses in the last 12 months for failure to recycle. The summonses expected from a mandatory food scrap collection will, if nothing else, add to the city’s coffers in the form of fines.

Maybe that was Bloomberg’s intent all along.


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