New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Zero Waste Challenge recently wrapped up with six hotels participating. The Zero Waste Challenge is part of the administration’s comprehensive OneNYC plan to send Zero Waste to landfill by 2030. Collectively, 31 businesses diverted 36,910 tons of waste that would have otherwise been sent to landfill or incineration. This was done by composting over 24,500 tons of organic material and donating 322 tons of food to New Yorkers in need. “With the Mayor’s Zero Waste Challenge, the new commercial recycling rules and commercial organics law, we aim to help businesses make choices that will cut down on our overall waste as a City,” said Nilda Mesa, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “Participants were very creative in coming up with ways to reduce waste and recycle more; staff training and getting upper management buy-in are also essential.”
New regulations that require New York City stadiums and hotels to foot the bill for disposing of the excessive food waste left behind by patrons went into effect last month. Collectively, 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.
The Challenge also required participants that regularly had leftover, edible food to donate it to a food 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.
Hotel participants in the Zero Waste Challenge included Hilton Garden Inn New York/Staten Island, Hyatt Place Flushing, Martha Washington Hotel, The Peninsula New York, The Pierre New York, and The Waldorf Astoria. The Hilton Garden Inn New York/Staten Island, The Peninsula New York and The Pierre New York all reached 50 percent of waste diverted from landfill and incineration.