File photo of New York City Mayor Bloomberg at a news conference in New York, on September 13, 2012 (© Mike Segar-Reuters)
Call it Portland-on-the-Huds​on.

Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City is turning into a veritable tree-hugging utopia, with bike lanes, a new bike-sharing program and a ban on smoking on parks. 

His latest goal for the city's notoriously hard-boiled residents: composting. That means New Yorkers, from the billionaire mayor himself down to the lowest-income residents, will need to separate food scraps from other rubbish, following the lead of generations of environmentalists. 

The idea of composting is to create a rich fertilizer by using decomposed food scraps, which are prized for being an economical and earth-friendly alternative to chemical fertilizers like those made by Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG). (Full disclosure: I have a composting bin, but my efforts are, at best, halfhearted.)

Officials in the Bloomberg administration say pilot programs have had unexpectedly high levels of participation, The New York Times reports. That's encouraging the city to roll out a citywide program. 

While it's good for the earth, it's also likely to benefit the Big Apple's budget, given that New York shelled out $336 million last year just to get rid of its trash.

But not all New Yorkers may like Bloomberg's vision. That's because while the plan will start out as voluntary, composting will become mandatory within a few years. Scofflaws could end up fined if they fail to separate their Chinese-takeout leftovers from their trash, The Times notes. 

New Yorkers will be required to collect food waste in small containers, which will then be placed in larger curbside bins for pickup by sanitation trucks. 

"It's revolutionary for New York," Eric A. Goldstein, a senior lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, told the newspaper. "If successful, pretty soon there'll be very little trash left for homeowners to put in their old garbage cans."

While many people have praised the idea, some have raised questions about how composting will work in such a densely populated city. However, other cities such as San Francisco and Seattle, where residents aren't quite so tightly packed, have successfully launched similar programs.

"Pray tell does one do this in a prewar high rise?" one Times reader wrote. "I know that his housekeeper will get right on it but some of us don't have STAFF! The vermin and insect problems will be immense. The mayor doesn't even sweep the streets or keep the drains running smoothly but he is going to have the CITY maintain a timely pick up of rotting food?"

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.


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