NYC proposes to expand food waste separation requirements

By Erin Voegele | October 09, 2017

The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) recent published a proposed rule that aims to expand organic waste source separation requirements for large commercial food retailers and food service establishments. Members of the public are invited to submit comments on the proposal. The deadline to comment is Oct. 31. A public hearing on the matter is also scheduled for Oct. 31.

According to the proposal, food scraps and other organic waste make up more than one-third of all commercial waste in NYC. “Diverting this material from landfills to use for soil enhancing compost, or as an energy source in aerobic and anaerobic digesters, is a key component of the city’s goal of sending zero waste to landfills by the year 2030,” said the DSNY in the proposal.

Local laws require the sanitation commissioner to evaluate whether there exists sufficient regional organics waste processing capacity to require that certain food-generation businesses in the city engage in alternative methods for handling organic waste separated by the businesses. This evaluation must be completed at least annually.

According to the proposal, the DSNY has determined that there is currently sufficient organics processing capacity available to allow for increased food waste diversion. Therefore, the department is proposing to expand the existing requirements to additional large food-generation businesses. “These businesses will be required to separate their organic waste for collection and handling by their private carters, transport organic waste themselves, or manage it on-site using in-vessel composting or aerobic or anaerobic digestion systems,” said the DSNY in the proposal. Alternatively, a designated covered establishment may donate food that would otherwise be thrown away to a third party.

The proposed rule expands existing organic waste source separation requirements to food service establishments with a floor area space of at least 7,000 square feet; food service establishments that are part of a chain of 50 or more locations in the city of New York that operate under common ownership or control and are individually franchised outlets of a parent business or do business under the same corporate name; and retail food stores that have a floor area space of at least 10,000 square feet, or any retail food store that is part of a chain of three or more retail food stores that have a combined floor areas space of at least 10,000 square feet and operate under common ownership or control and receive waste collection from the same private carter. The proposal also allows for waivers from requirements under certain circumstances.

In addition, the proposed rule amends registration requirements for certain establishments that provide for a beneficial organic waste use on-site at their premise, and clarifies the terms “floor area” and “sign” under the regulation.

Additional information on the proposal is available on the NYC Rules website.