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Solid Waste

Goal: Divert 75% of our solid waste from landfills 

Every year, New York City creates more than 14 million tons of waste. Roughly half is recycled. A quarter is collected from our homes, streets and public institutions.  Another quarter is collected from businesses, including offices, restaurants and manufacturing.  The rest comes from the construction and demolition industry, including fill or dirt from excavation.  Managing this vast amount of solid waste has an enormous impact on our environment, communities and economy. Currently, solid waste represents 3% of the City's GHG emissions.

As our city grows, and we meet the challenges posed by climate change, we must reduce the amount of waste we create.  

In order to meet our goal of diverting 75% of waste from landfills, we first need to reduce the amount of waste we produce overall.  We must continue to improve our solid waste management infrastructure and invest in new technologies to recover resources from our waste. We must aggressively increase recycling at home and in our businesses. If we do all of the above, we will drastically reduce the impact of our city’s waste.

Food Waste Challenge 

The Mayor’s Food Waste Challenge is a voluntary program to showcase NYC restaurants committed to reducing the amount of their food waste that goes to landfill.

New Yorkers love their restaurants. And for good reason. They are among the world’s finest; an integral part of NYC history and culture. What’s less lovable is the trash they – we – generate. New York City restaurants, in total, account for the largest single stream of food waste on the commercial side. They generate close to a half million tons of food waste per year – enough to fill well over a hundred subway cars per day. When food waste and other waste decompose together, they produce environmentally destructive methane. Getting that food waste out of landfills – and putting it to more productive use as compost or renewable energy – remains a critical task for NYC.

In his 2012 State of the City address, Mayor Bloomberg committed the City to double the amount of waste we recycle or compost. Having initiated dramatic measures to achieve these goals on the residential side, the city is now signing up local businesses to match this progress. The Mayor invites restaurants – you – to sign on to the Food Waste Challenge and reduce NYC’s landfilled food waste.

The Challenge
The Mayor’s Food Waste Challenge invites New York City restaurants to help reduce landfilled food waste by committing to a 50 percent food waste diversion goal.

  • The 50 percent Target: To meet the 50 percent food waste diversion goal, participants in the Food Waste Challenge must reduce the amount of their food waste that goes to landfill by 50 percent from their base year.
  • Food Waste Tracking: The program requires participants to conduct a baseline waste generation to determine the volume or weight of the total waste generated and the composition, monitor changes and report data on at least a quarterly basis.

Food Waste Challenge Press Release (En Español)

For more information, email 

PlaNYC report on Solid WastePlaNYC 2011 chapter on Solid WasteDownload the chapter (in PDF)