A bill could be introduced next month and passed before Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn leave office at the end of the year. But it would not take effect until at least 2015, and only then if food-waste processing facilities could handle the enormous quantities of food that institutions throw away. Food waste accounts for a third of the city's more than 20,000 tons of daily refuse.
A spokesman for the mayor's office did not respond to an inquiry about the plan. A City Council spokeswoman said the administration has told the council about the effort but has not shared a bill or enough detail for the speaker's office to be able to comment yet. However, Ms. Quinn has been vocal about expanding composting in the city and has indicated a desire to pass a great deal of legislation before her term expires.
Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts have already adopted bans on sending commercial food waste to landfills, though it is too soon to know if they are effective because their trigger mechanisms have yet to kick in: Until sufficient processing capacity is available, businesses are off the hook.
But waste-handling companies are actively adding this capacity: Waste Management has at least three dozen organic processing plants in the U.S. and has investments in others, such as Harvest Power, which turns yard trimmings and food waste into energy, soil, mulch and fertilizer at 28 sites across North America. There's even one in Brooklyn, but it only accepts wood, leaves, brush and other vegetative material.