By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK (Reuters) - More than 30 New York City businesses, including Whole Foods Market Inc, Walt Disney Co's ABC and Anheuser Busch, have agreed to cut the trash they send to landfills by half by June, the mayor's office said on Monday.
The "Zero Waste Challenge" is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's ambitious goal to reduce the city's waste output by 90 percent by 2030, through increased recycling, reduced packaging and composting. In 2015, the city's sanitation department collected 3.2 million tons of waste.
"We're doing what we can to make recycling and composting as accessible as possible to New Yorkers, but everyone will need to do their part to make a more sustainable New York City a reality," de Blasio said in a statement. "These businesses are leading the way."
New York, with more than 8 million residents, is the largest city in the Western Hemisphere to adopt such a far-reaching plan. Los Angeles has announced a similar plan to reduce its waste by 90 percent by 2025.
Participants in the challenge, which began in February, have already slashed 60 percent of their waste, on average, using strategies such as stocking coffee mugs rather than paper cups and switching from filing cabinets to digital storage, de Blasio said. Nearly 13,000 tons of trash have been diverted from landfills so far, they said.
The challenge also requires businesses that regularly have leftover edible food to donate it to collection organizations like City Harvest, which distributes food to homeless shelters.
Businesses in the challenge include Citi Field and Barclays Center, the homes of the New York Mets baseball team and the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, respectively; luxury hotels like The Peninsula and The Waldorf Astoria; high-end restaurants like Le Bernardin; and the e-commerce website Etsy Inc.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Richard Chang)