Nearly two months after composting became mandatory in The City, leftovers from countless fast-food meals are being illegally dumped into landfills and local franchises are not being fined for violating the new law.
Under city law, residents and businesses can be fined if they throw recyclable or compostable waste into a trash bin, and eateries must provide recycling and composting facilities for their customers.
But The City is not taking any action against Burger King or Subway franchises for sending customers’ leftovers to landfill.
Independent restaurants are among the most active participants in a decade-old program that collects food scraps in green bins and turns them into compost for wineries and farms, according to Environment Department commercial waste manager Alex Dimitriew.
Many of the restaurants started taking part in the composting program long before it became mandatory, in part because of incentive programs that reduce trash bills for conscientious composters.
More than three out of every four restaurants in The City are placing food waste in green composting bins, according to Dimitriew.
Participating restaurants include McDonald’s outlets, which place compostable kitchen waste into green bins and pick through customer trash to separate compostable from noncompostable waste, according to Dimitriew.
McDonald’s franchises are working with The City to introduce new bins to allow its customers to toss their food scraps directly into a composting bin, he said.
But Burger King, which has 10 outlets in The City, is not participating in the composting program.
“Burger King has four corporate employees assigned to the franchisees in this area, and it is in the process of identifying a lead person out of that team of four that will talk with The City about implementing composting,” Dimitriew said.
Additionally, many Subway stores are failing to compost, often because they are tenants in office buildings that haven’t yet rolled out planned composting programs, according to Dimitriew.
Subway’s head office is working with its regional office, Subway spokesman Les Winograd said, “To make sure that all of our franchises and their restaurants comply with all aspects of the law.”
Dimitriew said he expects the McDonald’s composting program to set an example for other fast-food chains when it is fully implemented.
In the meantime, The City is treating recalcitrant fast-food franchisees gently.
“I don’t expect any enforcement in at least the next half of a year,” Dimitriew said.
A Burger King spokeswoman declined to provide comments for this story.
It’s easy being green
What can be placed in green compost bin:
-Bread, grains and pasta
-Coffee grounds, coffee filters and tea bags
-Dairy and eggshells
-Fruit, vegetables and nuts
-Meat and seafood, including bones
-Yard trimmings, leaves and weeds
-Soiled paper boxes, cups, plates, containers, bags, napkins, tissues and towels
-Waxed cardboard, paper and milk and juice cartons
-Cutlery and plastic labeled “compostable”
-Small pieces of lumber or sawdust from clean, untreated wood