More than 100 NYC restaurants, including celebrated spots such as Le Bernardin and Momofuku, have vowed to cut their food waste in half. In a speech at the New York Times Energy for Tomorrow Conference, Mayor Michael Bloomberg cited food as accounting for one third of the 20,000 tons of daily waste produced, with restaurants generating 70 percent of the commercial food waste making its way to landfills. That’s a lot of food not being eaten. Instead of throwing out leftovers from tables and food scraps, the restaurants will aim to step up their composting and recycling efforts.
Reducing the amount of waste produced by restaurants is not a new issue. The problem is that most chefs are more concerned with the quality of their dishes than what happens with the leftover ingredients. While the problem has been tackled on a small scale by environmentally conscious entrepreneurs who turn waste into preservatives and run composting pick-ups services, restaurants will need to implement major logistical changes in order to make Bloomberg’s mission succeed. This initiative seems like a step in the right direction.