Tapping the (Decomposing) Big Apple: NYC’s Organic Waste Is a Crucial Renewable Energy Resource

By Matt Tomich, Breaking Energy.

New York and other cities across the U.S. and around the world are grappling with the imperative to cut greenhouse gas emissions and implement low-carbon energy and fuel systems. Whether the emission reduction goals are 30% by 2020, 50% by 2030, or 80% by 2050, leaders and climate experts agree: the time to act on climate is now.

There is less agreement on how specifically to meet the ambitious goals. Solar, wind, biofuels, energy efficiency and other innovations may all play a role. But each city and region has its own challenges. What works in L.A., where it’s sunny and warm all year ‘round and everyone owns a car, may not work for New York or Boston, and vice versa.

But waste is a constant in every city, regardless of size or geography. In the U.S., we generate lots of it — more than 250 million tons of municipal solid waste each year. Of this, approximately 28%, or 70 million tons, is food and yard waste. That doesn’t even count other large, non-municipal sources of organics like wastewater plants, agricultural operations, food processing, and more.