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ONENYC: Mayor de Blasio's Zero Waste Challenge Wraps Up With Thousands Of Tons Of Waste Diverted From Landfill and Incineration

July 11, 2016

Participants diverted nearly 37,000 tons of material, including composting over 24,500 tons of organic material

322 tons of food provided to New Yorkers in need

NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Zero Waste Challenge ended this week, marking the completion of a 31-business effort to dramatically reduce waste. The Zero Waste Challenge is part of the administration’s comprehensive OneNYC plan to send Zero Waste to landfill by 2030. Participants – which included some of New York City’s most iconic businesses and institutions from a variety of sectors – collectively 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.

“In OneNYC, we made a commitment to sending Zero Waste to landfill by 2030,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Our Zero Waste Challenge and the participants have proven that a collected effort helps reduce unnecessary waste. Together, businesses from a variety of sectors diverted 36,910 tons of waste that would have otherwise been sent to a landfill. This challenge proves that our commitment can be achieved so long as every New Yorker does their part to create a more sustainable city. My thanks to the businesses that stepped up to the challenge.”

“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.”

“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. We are very pleased with the results and look forward to continuing to work with these and more businesses to reach our Zero Waste goals.”

“The businesses that took part in the challenge are role models,” said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “The diversion rates they reached are phenomenal, and their innovative programs are models for others. They examined the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra and took it to heart; they found ways to first reduce the material they consumed and then figured out ways to give the material a second life – considering recycling as a last resort. These businesses are leaders that should be commended.”

“Diverting waste from landfill is good for taxpayers and the environment,” said DEP Acting Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “At the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, DEP is processing 10 tons of organic food waste every day, with plans to scale that up to 100 tons per day while also looking towards accepting food waste at our other facilities.”

Participating businesses represented every borough and included Viacom, Citi Field, Whole Foods, Madam Secretary and many more.

Throughout the Challenge, which ran February through June 2016, these 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.

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.

This Zero Waste 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 commercial recycling rules, making them easier for businesses to follow. Under these new Department of Sanitation rules, all businesses must recycle all recyclable materials.

Participants in the Zero Waste 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 (2937 Broadway), 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.)

Participating Haulers, food donation collectors, and consultants include Action Environmental Services, Avid Waste System, Inc., City Harvest, Boro Wide Recycling, Earth Angel, Filco Carting, Flag Container Service Inc., Five Star Carting Inc., Great Forest Sustainability Solutions, IESI, Mr. T Carting, Project Hospitality, Quality Waste Services Corp., Recycle Track Systems, Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, Rock and Wrap it Up!, Royal Waste Services, Sanitation Salvage Corp., and TV & Film Support Services.

To successfully complete the Challenge, each participant committed to divert at least 50 percent of their waste from landfill and incineration by the end of the Challenge. Participants are further challenged to step up their efforts and divert 75 percent – and ultimately 90 percent – of waste, if possible. Participants were acknowledged for several other accomplishments as well. Categories of awards went to:

  • Reaching 50 percent of waste diverted from landfill and incineration
    • Disney ABC Television Group
    • Citi Field
    • COOKFOX Architects
    • Durst Organization, 1133 Avenue of Americas
    • Durst Organization, 4 Times Square
    • Durst Organization, 655 3rd Avenue
    • Hilton Garden Inn New York/Staten Island 
    • Le Bernardin
    • Momofuku Milk Bar
    • Great Performances
    • Peninsula New York
    • The Pierre New York
    • USEPA, Region 2 Office
    • Whole Foods Market, Upper East Side
    • Whole Foods Market, Chelsea
  • Reaching 75 percent of waste diverted from landfill and incineration
    • Anheuser-Busch
    • Cleaver Co.
    • Dig Inn Seasonal Market, 509 Manida St
    • Durst Organization, 1 Bryant Park
    • Durst Organization, 114 W 47th Street
    • Durst Organization, 733 3rd Avenue
    • Etsy
    • Madam Secretary
    • Natural Resource Defense Council
    • Top Banana
    • Viacom
    • Sweetgreen, Columbia University
  • Reaching 90 percent of waste diverted from landfill and incineration
    • D'Arrigo Bros. of New York
    • Durst Organization, 201 & 205 E 42nd Street
  • Best new program inspired by the Zero Waste Challenge
    • RXR Realty Starett-Leigh Building’s new organics collection program (free to all tenants!)
  • Greatest overall waste diversion rate from landfill and incineration (across all participants)
    • D’Arrigo Bros. of New York- 95 percent
    • Durst Organization, 201 E 42nd Street- 95 percent
  • Greatest amount of food donated to local charities and organizations to feed hungry New Yorkers
    • D’Arrigo Bros. of New York - 172 Tons
  • Greatest overall waste diversion rate from landfill and incineration by category of business

Arenas: Citi Field – 57 percent
Commercial tenants and building owners: Durst Organization, 201 E. 42nd Street –
Food wholesalers, grocers and caterers: D’Arrigo Bros. of New York – 95 percent
Hotels: The Peninsula New York 66% & Hilton Garden Inn Staten Island – 66 percent
Office tenants: Viacom – 87 percent
Restaurants/Caterers: Dig Inn Seasonal Market – 88 percent
TV production: Madam Secretary – 87 percent

  • Most improved diversion rate from month one to month four

Le Pain Quotidien- 10 Fifth Avenue location

  • Most successful or innovative source reduction effort


"The success of our city's private sector leaders shows that we are ready to translate the Zero Waste Challenge into meaningful change that will sooner deliver every one of us a healthier and more environmentally responsible tomorrow. Rather than using our precious land to bury or burn our trash, these results show that it is possible to eliminate tons and tons of wasteful practices through smart composting and recycling strategies, as well as through more conscious cost-saving solutions. I applaud all of the participants in the Zero Waste Challenge, especially Brooklyn businesses such as Barclays Center and Etsy," said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, said, “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. 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.”

“As New Yorkers, whether residents or business leaders, we must all do our part to reduce the amount of waste that go into our landfills,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “Waste reduction will provide some relief to low income communities that breathe in the fumes from the trucks that haul billions of tons of waste through these neighborhoods. I want to congratulate Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability for successfully completing the Mayor’s Zero Waste Challenge, taking us one step closer to create a greener New York City for our children and our grandchildren.”

Council Member Vanessa Gibson said, "I congratulate Mayor Bill de Blasio, Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, and all of the organizations who took part in the Mayor’s Zero Waste Challenge. Waste reduction is everyone’s responsibility, but I am truly impressed by the organizations who have outdone themselves over the past year by reducing their waste output by 50 percent or more and proving that a successful business can easily be environmentally friendly. I look forward to future innovative partnership in our City’s effort to reduce waste and create a greater, greener New York for all." 

“We are proud of our participation in the Zero Waste Challenge and the Golden Trashcan we were awarded for our diversion rate,” said Helena Durst, CAO of The Durst Organization. “Changing people’s habits are hard, especially when it comes to things that they are throwing away. It takes time, commitment and resources and today’s announcement is testament to the hard work of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and all the participants in the challenge.”

“For over 100 years Katzman Produce has been a friend of the farmer while helping feed New Yorkers,” said Jason Gilweski of Katzman Produce. “Participation in the Zero Waste Challenge further solidifies our commitment to sustainability.”

“As part of our company's Green Mission, Whole Foods Market places a large emphasis on managing waste, so participating in the Mayor’s Zero Waste Challenge was a natural partnership," said Kylie Sale, Green Mission Specialist for Whole Foods Market's Northeast Region. "This challenge helped us to share and to strengthen our sustainability efforts as we strive to divert even more of our waste through reusing, donating, composting, and recycling."

"To have the Mayor's Office of Sustainability guiding and supporting our efforts is helpful and validating. The Mayor's Zero Waste Challenge is aligned with efforts that the Hilton Garden Inn Staten Island had already worked toward with both our haulers and our on-property processes. We want the best for our guests, not only while they are dining with us, but also as we coexist in the Staten Island community. We treat each day as if it's Earth Day," said Richard Nicotra, Owner of the Hilton Garden Inn Staten Island

“Royal Waste Services is excited to be part of the Zero Waste Challenge,” said Mike Reali, Vice President of Royal Waste Services. “We have been recycling and composting for the past ten years. According to the data provided, most of our customers are above the 50 percent threshold. We are also very proud of our work with the Durst Organization and D’arrigo Bros. in being awarded the greatest overall waste diversion at 95 percent. We thank the administration for shining a spotlight on the very important issue of recycling and re-using the city’s waste. This challenge shows that together, the commercial hauling industry and our customers can divert waste from landfills and incineration. We are very motivated and confident that we can meet the Mayor’s Zero waste initiative."

“We are excited to announce that SL Green exceeded the Zero Waste Challenge goal of diverting at least 50 percent of waste from landfill and incineration. In partnership with our tenants CookFox and Viacom, we achieved 64 percent and 87 percent diversion rates, respectively,” said Edward V. Piccinich, Executive Vice President of SL Green. “SLG will incorporate the lessons learned during the Challenge into its portfolio-wide waste management strategy to support the City’s zero waste goals.”

“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 Vice President of Ballpark Operations Sue Lucchi. “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.”

"We've always been passionate about reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfills but this challenge helped us push ourselves even further,” said Anthony Guerrero, Director of Facilities and Sustainability at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “In just a few months, we’ve boosted our composting and recycling rates – and we won’t stop there. The challenge now is to get ourselves even closer to being a zero waste office.”

“It was great to be a part of the success of the Zero Waste Challenge," said Anthony DelBroccolo, President if Avid Waste Systems. "The collaborative and enthusiastic efforts of the participating vendors and private carters were instrumental to its achievements. We commend the mayor’s administration for putting together this terrific challenge and look forward to expanding on the goals to reduce our city's environmental footprint."

“I would like to congratulate all of the participants involved in the Mayor’s Zero Waste Challenge for their contributions towards the City’s goal of sending zero waste to landfills by 2030. I would like to thank the businesses for successfully increasing their diversion rate and sending less waste to landfills and incinerators, as well as the private haulers for performing waste audits throughout the process. I would also like to congratulate the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability for spearheading this project and showing what we can accomplish as a City if we all work together to find innovative solutions,” said Daniel Brownell, Commissioner of the Business Integrity Commission.

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