New York City Begins First Borough-Wide Curbside Composting Program in Queens
The Queens borough of New York City is starting a new curbside compost program for its 2.2 million residents, who will not have to sign-up to be involved. The Department of Sanitation program launched on October 3, 2022, and according to the city, it will be the biggest compost program in the U.S.
Compost is collected all across Queens every week, and residents can compost leaf yard waste, food scraps, and food-soiled paper in either provided compost bins or bins adorned with free compost decals provided by the city. Buildings with 10 or more units received bins for free, and smaller residences could request free compost bins by October 1.
In New York City, there is about three pounds of trash put out each day for every resident, according to Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch. Of the 24 million pounds of rubbish, 8 million pounds are compostable.
“Today, that organic material goes in the black trash bags, where it’s commingled with all the other household trash, and it sits on the curbs, serving, as we said before, an all-you-can-eat buffet for rats,” Tisch said, as reported by Spectrum News NY1. “Adding more insult to injury, it then gets landfilled, where the material decomposes and produces harmful methane gas for years to come.”
While this is not the first large composting program in Queens or New York City, officials are hoping to make it easier and more accessible by removing sign-ups and allowing residents to use their own bins with lids or free, provided bins. Composting programs were also halted at the start of the pandemic, and Mayor Eric Adams hopes the Queens composting program will be more effective than before.
“When we suspended the composting program [in 2020], I said that we’re going to bring it back, but we’re going to bring it in a more equitable and a more cost-efficient way. This is keeping the promise that we stated,” Adams said in a statement. “This is a no-frill way of just getting it done. Without the bureaucracy and the difficulties of signing up for a program.”
The program will run from early October through December, then will pause for three months due to a lower amount of yard waste, which Tisch and Adams say make up the most of compost materials collected. The program will start up again in March.
The city also plans to install more “Smart Compost” bins in Manhattan, the Bronx, central Brooklyn and Staten Island.
New York City joins other major cities, like San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, in implementing larger composting initiatives. In 2022, the state of California also began requiring all jurisdictions to provide organic waste collection, following Vermont to become the second state to mandate composting.
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