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DSNY Opens Microgrant Program For Local Businesses To Combat Food Waste

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The NYC Department of Sanitation is taking larger steps to reduce the amount of food waste in New York City. According to Fast Company, DSNY’s nonprofit agency, the Foundation for New York’s Strongest, announced on November 3 that it would be implementing a new microgrant program. The program is aimed at local businesses interested in developing innovative ways to reduce food waste.

Compared to the 90 pounds of chicken Americans eat in total every year, residents of New York produce an estimated 24,000 tons of waste annually. Approximately 20% of that waste is from uneaten food. To combat against this waste, DSNY began collecting food waste from landfills through the agency’s curbside organics collection program. However, the majority of the waste collected was from residential areas, not businesses.

The foundation has yet to set a goal for the number of initiatives it wishes to fund. However, each small business that applies for the microgrant will be allotted a total of $2,000 to develop ideas. Should multiple businesses choose to work together to create a proposal, the group would be allotted $5,000. The program itself currently has a budget of $50,000.

“Examples of things we’d love to see include, but are not limited to: equipment for sorting, apps or other technologies for tracking waste … [and] partnerships with community gardens or other businesses to develop a compost or food donation consortium,” said Elizabeth Balkan, the policy director of DSNY’s commissioner’s office.

While the grant itself may be small, other services and funding will also be provided to businesses who choose to get involved. For instance, the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute will bring in experts for staff training and to help businesses build waste-mitigation frameworks. Other donations will come from Kickstarter and Renew Packaging.

“It’s hard to pinpoint an exact amount,” said Balkan, “but we’re estimating that any business will be receiving funds and services totaling around $15,000.”

The program aims to not only reduce the amount of food waste produced by local businesses, but also to help improve collaboration between local businesses and city agencies. Applications for the microgrants are due January 8 for small businesses in New York City.