100 Restaurants Pledge to Halve Food Waste Sent to Landfills

The next time you bite into that pork bun at Momofuku or burrito at Chipotle, you can tell yourself that you’re doing something for the environment.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced on Thursday that more than 100 New York City restaurants, from haute cuisine temples like Le Bernardin to chains like Pret a Manger, have pledged to reduce the food waste they send to landfills by 50 percent.

Sadly, they won’t accomplish this goal by offering you a discount for cleaning your plate. They’ll do it through composting and recycling, Mr. Bloomberg said, in a speech at The New York Times’s “Building Sustainable Cities” Conference at TheTimesCenter.

“Food wastes make up about a third of our city’s total of more than 20,000 tons of daily refuse,” Mr. Bloomberg said, adding that restaurants accounted for 70 percent of commercial food waste.

Mr. Bloomberg described the restaurants that had accepted the city’s challenge as ranging “from fast-food franchises like Chipotle” – which he pronounced “CHIP-o-LAY” – to “farm-to-table hot spots” like Blue Hill, and said he hoped that they would inspire other restaurants to follow suit.

He told the audience that the conference’s caterer, Cleaver Company, had also joined the challenge.

“I’m glad to report that any uneaten food today will be diverted away from the landfill,” the mayor promised, before adding, with a grin, a reference to the conference cost. “That’s not to say you shouldn’t eat. For 800 bucks you should get a decent meal.”

In a related announcement, Mr. Bloomberg said Wednesday that the city would expand a composting pilot program currently under way in Manhattan and Brooklyn schools to all schools in the next two years. The program has reduced the amount of garbage the Manhattan and Brooklyn schools send to landfills by 38 percent.

On Thursday, Mr. Bloomberg also said that the city would convert nine acres of underused city-owned land into community garden sites, which nonprofit and community groups can apply to manage.

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