Organics recycling is building momentum in the United States and already has a strong foothold around the world. With New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent move to expand the city's voluntary composting program, calling it "the final frontier," the issue is gaining national attention.
According to an article in Yale Environment 360, New York’s program "could be a "’bellwether’" in the push to expand composting nationwide."
The environmental benefits of recycling that material are significant. As it decomposes in landfills, food and other organic waste produces methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. According to the EPA, landfills are the third-largest source of methane in the United States, behind industry and agriculture. Shipping waste long distances from cities to landfills produces even more greenhouse gas emissions. Composting, meanwhile, takes that waste and turns it into something usable: fertilizer. If cities like New York want to cut emissions, cut waste, and even cut costs, composting is a proven way to go about it.
New York isn’t the first large city to establish organics recycling; San Francisco, Portland and Seattle already have successful programs. Two states, Connecticut and Vermont, have enacted laws requiring producers of large amounts of organic waste to subscribe to a recycling service for that material. And the European Union has set limits in the European Landfill Directive for the amount of "biodegradable" waste that can be sent to landfills and calls for organics recycling as one of the solutions.
California continues working to implement AB 341, which sets a 75% recycling goal by 2020; organic material like food waste, the most prevalent item in the waste stream, can and must be factored into that equation.
Why compost? Find out more here.