New Commercial Organic Waste Regulations Go Live

Many businesses are already putting their food scraps and organic waste to good use, both voluntarily and under the City’s first commercial organic waste laws passed in 2013, which targeted large commercial food businesses and institutions. As the second phase of the commercial organic waste collection program, the City is updating the rules to cover an additional set of food retail, restaurant, and grocery businesses. Beginning in August 2018, the expanded rules will cover the following businesses:

  • Restaurants with a floor area of at least 15,000 square feet
  • Chain restaurants with 100 or more locations in the City that operate under common ownership or control, are individually franchised outlets of a parent business, or do business under the same corporate name
  • Food retailers (grocery stores) having a floor area space of at least 25,000 square feet

Businesses will be required to separate and put their food waste to beneficial uses (i.e., composting, anaerobic digestion, or food rescue and donation) instead of sending it to landfills as trash. If you’re a food retailer or restaurant required to divert food and organic waste under these new rules, there are some simple steps you can follow to implement food waste diversion when the rules go into effect later this year.

Image Source: NYC Department of Sanitation

Image Source: NYC Department of Sanitation

To comply, businesses have three main options: hiring a BIC-approved private carter offering organic waste collection, self-transporting collected food scraps and organic waste to an approved facility, or processing the food waste directly on-site through composting or anaerobic digestion. There are a range of existing resources that can help restaurants, grocery retailers, food service, hospitality, and other food businesses get started. 

  • Check out NYC Business Integrity Commission’s approved list of commercial organic waste haulers here.
  • Take a look through best practice guides tailored to the hospitality, food service, retail, and restaurant sectors – such as ReFED’s Action Guides and World Wildlife Fund’s Hotel Toolkit – for more solutions and ideas on how to prevent, donate, reuse, and recycle wasted food

Additionally, any excess fresh ingredients, packaged and shelf-stable foods, or surplus prepared foods can be donated to several food banks and food rescue organizations across the city. Restaurants and food businesses can legally donate food in good faith to non-profit organizations and are protected from liability under the 1996 Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. Donate surplus, edible food and ingredients to local organizations, such as City Harvest, Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, or Food Bank For New York.

Enforcement of the rules will begin in February 2019 giving affected businesses several months to prepare. For full details on the expanded rules, please visit DSNY’s site for the press release.