PHOTO: Citi Field was one of the 31 businesses that participated in the challenge. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Richiek
By Forum Staff
Participants in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Zero Waste Challenge, which wrapped up this week, collectively diverted 36,910 tons of waste that would have otherwise been sent to landfill or incineration, the administration announced this week.
The 31 businesses who accepted the challenge – part of de Blasio’s OneNYC plan to send zero waste to landfill by 2030 – succeeded by composting over 24,500 tons of organic material and donating 322 tons of food to New Yorkers in need.
“The Zero Waste Challenge so far has helped our city reach our goal of reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050 through eliminating waste and diverting materials from landfill,” said City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), chairman of the Committee on Environmental Protection. “Our city’s businesses, including retailers, wholesalers, office buildings and even TV productions have worked together to achieve this goal. I am proud that this Challenge has resulted in over 36,000 tons of waste being diverted from landfills so far. I thank Mayor de Blasio for this leadership on this important Challenge.”
Participants in the Challenge include ABC/Disney, Anheuser-Busch, AppNexus, Barclays Center, Citi Field, Cleaver Co., COOKFOX Architects with landlord SL Green, D’Arrigo Brothers, Dig Inn Seasonal Market (1 location), The Durst Organization (8 buildings), EPA Region 2 office (GSA Building), Etsy, Great Performances Catering, Hilton Garden Inn Staten Island, Hyatt Place Flushing, Katzman Produce, Le Bernardin Restaurant, Le Pain Quotidien at 10 5th Avenue, “Madam Secretary” (Eye Productions Inc.), Martha Washington Hotel, Momofuku (Brooklyn location), NRDC, RXR’s Starrett-Lehigh Building, sweetgreen, The New School, The Peninsula, The Pierre, The Waldorf, Top Banana, Viacom with landlord SL Green, and Whole Foods (Chelsea and Upper East Side locations.)
“Achieving the City’s ambitious climate change agenda will require meeting our Zero Waste goals. The Zero Waste Challenge has proven to be a successful way to highlight effective actions to reduce waste, diverting over 36,000 tons of waste. This should inspire every New Yorker to do their part and commit to sending Zero Waste to landfill,” said Daniel Zarrilli, senior director for Climate Policy and Programs and chief resilience officer for the Office of the Mayor. “Congratulations to all the businesses and award winners that have shown real commitment and innovation as they help the City meet its critical Zero Waste goals.”
Throughout the Challenge, which ran February through June 2016, participating businesses and their haulers diverted 36,910 tons of material that would have otherwise been sent to landfill or incineration. All participants reached an average diversion rate of 56.5 percent – exceeding the Challenge’s goal of a 50 percent diversion. Three quarters of participants diverted 50 percent or more of their total waste from landfill and incineration through tactics such as making smarter, less wasteful purchases; reducing packaging; and switching to reusable goods and digital storage. For example, some participants are stocking their offices with reusable coffee mugs and glasses and have done away with disposable cups and bottled water; another replaced all trash bins with tiny countertop landfill bins encouraging employees to only place materials there that must go to landfill.
Additionally, the Challenge also required participants that regularly had leftover, edible food to donate it to a collection organization to then be sent to shelters or food pantries. A total of 322 tons of food was donated by participants to feed hungry New Yorkers. Organizations such as City Harvest; Rock and Wrap it Up!; and Rescuing Leftover Cuisine assisted the City in tracking donations.
“Citi Field and the New York Mets are committed to a sustainable future, and were pleased to participate in the Mayor’s Zero Waste Challenge,” said Sue Lucchi, vice president of Ballpark Operations. “We are enthusiastic about tackling the food waste issues with all our partners and are excited that this initiative helped feed so many New Yorkers in need.”
The administration noted that the Challenge comes ahead of the new commercial organics law which will require certain subsets of businesses to source-separate food scraps and other organic material for beneficial use in 2017; as well as new commercial recycling rules that simplify the City’s current rules, making them easier for businesses to follow. Under these new Department of Sanitation regulations, all businesses must recycle all recyclable materials.