Demand Mandatory Separation of Organic Waste

Target: Kathryn Garcia, Commissioner of Sanitation of New York City

Goal: Make the separation of organic waste from recyclables and trash a requirement in New York City.

New York City already has a program that encourages residents to separate out organic waste from recyclables and other trash; however, 95 percent of the city’s food waste ends up in landfills or combustors. It is the responsibility of the residents to dispose of organic waste so that it can be used in compost, or allowed to biodegrade. The residents of New York City should be mandated to separate out organic waste from waste designated for recycling centers, landfills, or combustors.

When organic waste decays in landfills, the biogas–or the mixture of gasses released in the decaying process–is a combination of methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and often includes contaminants such as heavy metals. These compounds are all greenhouse gasses, making the decaying process of organic matter in landfills a contributor to global warming. When organic waste is composted naturally, the biogas is composed of some carbon dioxide and water vapor with no toxic heavy metals, which results in a rich, natural fertilizer. The separation of organic waste from other trash is imperative for environmental sustainability.

The average American throws out about 25 percent of food purchased, which ends up in landfills or combustors. This has a major influence on the rat population in the city, since rats travel the same paths as their food sources, and rat populations increase as the percentage of food waste increases. Hayle Rogers, a member of the Department of Sanitation of New York City says of the rats, “…they’re such a visceral issue. It’s like we’re giving them a buffet every night.”

By signing the petition below you will help urge the Commissioner of the Department of Sanitation of New York City to require mandatory separation of organic waste from recyclable material and waste designated for landfills and combustors in order to create a more environmentally friendly waste system.


Dear Commissioner Garcia,

Ninety five percent of the food waste of New York City ends up in either landfills or combustors, despite the efforts of the organics collection program that began in 2014. Though this program is a positive step towards environmentally friendly disposal of organic waste in the city, only about ten percent of the city’s residents support the plan unequivocally. Separating food waste into a plastic bin similarly to separating paper, plastic, and aluminum should be not only encouraged by the organics collection program, but mandatory for all residents of New York City.

The average American disposes of 25 percent of food purchased, which usually ends up in landfills or combustors. Once in a landfill, the decomposition process of food waste creates methane, hydrogen sulfide, and other greenhouse gasses, contributing to global warming. The food waste also dramatically increases the rat population of the city and landfills alike, contributing to the spread of illness due to the pathogens carried by these vermin.

I am urging you to mandate the separation of organic waste from waste material designated for landfills and combustors. Please take actions to enforce policies that encourage safe and environmentally friendly waste disposal and promote environmental sustainability.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Tim Jewett

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402 Signatures

  • Sandra Dutcher
  • kajsa ingelsson
  • Sue Mohr
  • Martin Hoffman
  • Kjersti Gunnberg
  • Kathleen Archibald
  • Vanessa Fernandes
  • Chris Verhaegen
  • Cathie Sekendur
  • Daniel O'Keefe
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