NY Bikers Aim to Lower Food Waste through Solar-Powered Composting Facilities

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NY Bikers Aim to Lower Food Waste through Solar-Powered Composting Facilities

SOLEDAD: WELCOME TO SEASON 8 OF “MATTER OF FACT.” ♪ SOLEDAD: I’M SOLEDAD O’BRIEN. WELCOME TO “MATTER OF FACT.” AMERICA IS TRASHY. NO, NOT IN A CELEBRITY-TABLOID-KIND-OF WAY. I’M TALKING ABOUT LITERAL TRASH. ACCORDING TO THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, THE AVERAGE AMERICAN PRODUCES CLOSE TO FIVE POUNDS OF WASTE EACH DAY. ABOUT ONE POUND OF THAT IS FOOD WASTE. NEW YORKERS PRODUCE 24 MILLION POUNDS OF GARBAGE EVERY DAY. THAT WASTE IS SHIPPED OFF TO BE BURIED OR BURNED AS FAR AWAY AS SOUTH CAROLINA OR OHIO. SOME YOUNG PEOPLE WANT TO CHANGE THAT. AS PART OF OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH SALESFORCE.ORG, WE TALK TO YOUNG INNOVATORS ABOUT HOW THEY’RE COMBATING THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES. BRYS PERALTA: I AM A MICRO HAULER, I RIDE AND PICK UP FOOD SCRAPS, PUT THEM IN THE TRAILERS. MY ROUTE ON A HEAVY DAY, IT’LL BE LIKE 200 POUNDS OF FOOD SCRAPS. SOLEDAD: IN ABOUT TWO HOURS, 19-YEAR-OLD BRYS PERALTA WILL MAKE 25 STOPS AT HOMES, APARTMENTS AND BUSINESSES ACROSS THE BUSHWICK NEIGHBORHOOD OF BROOKLYN. HIS JOB? TAKING SCRAPS, LIKE DISCARDED FRUITS, VEGETABLES, COFFEE GROUNDS TO BE TRANSFORMED INTO A NUTRIENT-RICH COMPOST THAT’S SOLD TO LOCAL GARDENERS. SOLEDAD: HOW DOES COMPOSTING RELATE TO CLIMATE CHANGE? LIKE, CONNECT THOSE DOTS FOR ME. BRYS: WELL, ALL OF THE FOOD THAT YOU DON’T DIVERT FROM LANDFILLS RELEASE GREENHOUSE GASSES AND METHANE AND THAT ALL CONTRIBUTES TO CLIMATE CHANGE. SOLEDAD: CLIENTS PAY A SMALL FEE FOR SCRAPS TO BE BROUGHT TO THIS SMALL PUBLIC GARDEN IN BROOKLYN’S BUSHWICK NEIGHBORHOOD — NEIGHBORHOOD. THIS IS THE HOME OF BK ROT, AN ORGANIZATION WITH 20 YOUNG PEOPLE ON PAYROLL. THEY SLOP, CHOP, AND MIX THE NITROGEN-RICH FOOD SCRAPS WITH CARBON-HEAVY WOOD CHIPS. THE PILES ARE TURNED OVER REGULARLY, TAKING IN OXYGEN TO BREAK DOWN BACTERIA AND FUNGI WHILE SPEEDING UP DECOMPOSITION. SOLEDAD: FINALLY, AFTER EIGHT WEEKS OF THIS CAREFULLY PLANNED DANCE OF MATTER, COMPOST IS RUN THROUGH A SOLAR-POWERED SIFTER BEFORE BEING PACKAGED FOR SALE. EVERY MONTH, BK ROT WILL DIVERT 15,000-20,000 POUNDS OF FOOD WASTE. BUT NEW YORK CITY PRODUCES ALMOST 5 MILLION TONS OF COMPOSTABLE WASTE EVERY YEAR. SANDY: WHAT DO WE WANT? >> COMPOST! >> WHEN DO WE WANT IT? >> NOW! SOLEDAD: SANDY NURSE CO-FOUNDED BK ROT, BEFORE GETTING ELECTED TO THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL WHERE SHE CHAIRS THE SANITATION COMMITTEE. SHE’S WORKING TO ACHIEVE A CITY GOAL OF ZERO WASTE BY 2030. SANDY: TO EXPORT OUR WASTE, WE SPEND ALMOST A HALF A BILLION DOLLARS TO SEND OUR WASTE TO REGIONAL LANDFILLS OR TO BURN IT IN PENNSYLVANIA AND UPSTATE NEW YORK. SO THE ABILITY TO, ONE, STOP BURNING OUR TRASH AND STOP PRODUCING THIS METHANE HAS IMMENSE BENEFITS FOR THE CLIMATE CRISIS. SOLEDAD: EVERY DAY THE CITY HAS ABOUT 2100 GARBAGE TRUCKS ON NEW YORK CITY STREETS, HAULING THE TRASH TO MASSIVE TRANSFER STATIONS WHERE IT IS COMPRESSED INTO HUGE CONTAINERS AND THEN SHIPPED OFF BY BARGE, TRUCK AND TRAIN. WHERE DOES IT ALL GO? ANA: WHEN WE LOOK AT THE LOCATION OF INCINERATORS, FOR EXAMPLE, MOST OF THE INCINERATORS IN THE COUNTRY ARE LOCATED IN LOW INCOME COMMUNITIES OF COLOR. THESE ARE COMMUNITIES ALSO HIT FIRST AND WORST WITH CLIMATE IMPACTS LIKE FLOODING, SEVERE HEAT. THEY BECOME THE BURN SITES AND PLACES THAT HAVE TO SUFFER THOSE IMPACTS, SO THERE IS AN BALANCE THERE THAT HAS TO BE RECKONED WITH. >> WE LIKE TO TALK ABOUT CLIMATE RESILIENCE. HOW DO WE COME UP WITH A SOLUTION FOR THAT PROBLEM THAT WE DIDN’T CREATE. SOLEDAD TRACK: DIOR ST. HILLAIRE IS A CO-DIRECTOR OF BK ROT. DIOR: THERE’S SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT COMPOST, ABOUT THE WAY IT BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER. SOLEDAD: I HAVE NEVER HEARD ANYONE SAY THAT BEFORE IN MY LIFE. THAT THERE’S SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT COMPOST THAT BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER. HOW SO? DIOR: YOU COULD COME FROM A DIFFERENT SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS, A DIFFERENT CULTURAL BACKGROUND. BECAUSE YOU HAVE A LOVE OF COMPOST. SOLEDAD: BK ROT CONTINUES TO GROW AND IS EXPANDING THEIR SOLAR CAPACITY TO MEET ENERGY NEEDS WITHOUT GENERATING GREENHOUSE GASSES. WITH MORE THAN $200,000 INVESTED IN WAGES, BK ROT SEES ITS BIGGEST POTENTIAL FOR GROWTH IN NEIGHBORHOOD YOUTH. BRYS: WE KNOW WHAT ALL THE PROBLEMS THAT ARE FACING US RIGHT NOW AND IT IS SCARY, BUT WE DON’T HAVE TO STAY SCARED. I LOVE SEEING LIKE THE CHANGE THAT’S POSSIBLE AND IT JUST GETS BIGGER AND BETTER AND MORE PEOPLE CARE. AND THERE’S MORE SUPPORT AND THERE’S JUST MORE POSSIBILITIES. SOLEDAD: IN THE COMING MONTHS, WE WILL VISIT MORE VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES IMPACTED BY CLIMATE CHANGE. YOU CAN WATCH OUR FIRST PIECE ON HOW THE ENVIRONMENT IS MAKING IT HARDER FOR CHILDREN TO BREAT

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NY Bikers Aim to Lower Food Waste through Solar-Powered Composting Facilities

The average American produces just under five pounds of waste each day. One pound of that is food waste. That’s more than any other nationality. New solutions are needed, especially as the garbage increasingly ends up in low-income neighborhoods. Soledad O’Brien takes a closer look at the process used by B-K Rot bikers in Brooklyn to make a business out of taking the waste to solar-powered composting facilities.

The average American produces just under five pounds of waste each day. One pound of that is food waste. That’s more than any other nationality. New solutions are needed, especially as the garbage increasingly ends up in low-income neighborhoods. Soledad O’Brien takes a closer look at the process used by B-K Rot bikers in Brooklyn to make a business out of taking the waste to solar-powered composting facilities.

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