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City May Soon Require Large Scale Restaurants, Hotels, and Arenas to Compost

The measure could spare landfills 50,000 tons of waste a year.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Mayor de Blasio's administration may soon require arenas, hotels and some large restaurants to compost their food waste. It's all part of the city's effort to achieve "zero waste" in landfills by 2030: "The commercial establishments in today's proposal are already recycling plastics and metals, and by additionally recycling organic material, they will significantly contribute to reducing our city's waste stream," de Blasio said in a statement. All told, the initiative could spare landfills 50,000 tons of waste a year.

Most restaurants won't be impacted in the beginning, but here's who will be: hotels with 150+ rooms, stadiums that seat 15,000 and more people, wholesalers that are 20,000-square-feet or bigger, and large scale restaurants (over 25,000 square feet), so that includes some palatial restaurants in the Meatpacking and likely some in Times Square, along with a few other outliers. It would also potentially impact the slew of restaurateurs who own dining spots in hotels like Stephen Starr, who recently helped open The Clocktower with Jason Atherton, the Torrisi boys at Dirty French, and others.

Unlike the city's pilot residential composting program where residents place their compostable scraps into a special bin for city pickup, these restaurants/arenas/hotels would be responsible for organizing pickup of waste or composting on site. Neither is a small feat to organize (or pay for), but even if the measure becomes law, it won't go into effect for six months and there won't be any fines for another six months after that, meaning there's at least a full year before this goes down. The longterm goal of the initiative would also require grocery stores, catering companies, fast food restaurants, and regular restaurants, to compost.

In the meantime, some environmental advocates, according to Crain's NY, worry that the city is focusing too heavily on collection and not enough on processing the food waste once it is collected. It's not precisely clear how the state would handle the 50,000 tons of waste.

Dirty French

180 Ludlow Street, Manhattan, NY 10002 (212) 254-3000 Visit Website

The Clocktower

5 Madison Avenue, New York, NY

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