Just catching up on the third installment of City Room’s “Ask a Garbologist” feature from last week. In particular, I was selfishly pleased to see my own question answered—what are some model policies from other cities that New York could learn from?
Dr. Nagle’s response:
New York’s garbage footprint would shrink significantly if we could build a large-scale composting facility like this state-of-the-art example in Edmonton, Canada. That city, like so many, once consigned all its household waste to landfills, but now 60 percent of it is recycled or composted.
Edmonton’s plant, which takes up about 60 acres, is the largest in North America. The city proper has a population of about 750,000; the larger metropolitan region has approximately one million. A similar facility in New York would have to be a whole lot bigger if we intended it to serve the entire city. Unlike Edmonton, we are not surrounded by open space, so an immediate problem would be finding a place to put it. Edmontonians claim that their facility emits no odors (and no odours, either), a fact verified by a friend who toured it a couple of years ago. Even a stink-free plant in New York would bump up against NIMBY issues, but if we had the political will, the patience and the right spirit, I bet we could build something similar.
Thanks, Robin, for taking the time! And thanks, City Room for the trashtastic feature! Readers if you’re just tuning in, I highly recommend sifting through all three installments of answers from a garbologist. Each is riddled with interesting facts and handy references to trashy resources.