In April, New York City (NYC) Mayor Bill DeBlasio suspended all public funding for composting in NYC as part of cuts to the City budget in response to COVID-19. The NYC Department of Sanitation’s Curbside Composting program was suspended for at least 14 months, from May 4, 2020, to June 30, 2021. Funding for the NYC Compost Project’s community composting sites was also cut, along with the GrowNYC Zero Waste Program, which manages residential food scraps drop-off sites at NYC’s Green Markets and other locations.
Petition-signing and public testimony from New Yorkers who didn’t want to lose their access to food scraps composting — along with the hundreds of volunteers who assist with the drop-off sites and community composting programs — helped get funds restored for the NYC Compost Project in early July. New York City’s FY2021 budget restores $2.86 million for community composting operations, which include the Botanical Gardens in all five boroughs, Earth Matter NY, Lower East Side Ecology Center, and Big Reuse. Funding was not restored for GrowNYC to operate its food scraps drop-off locations. Beyond the GrowNYC drop-off access, many community gardens throughout NYC accept food scraps from residents in their neighborhoods for on-site composting. Those initiatives are continuing.
Following suspension of the curbside organics collection program, New York City Council members Keith Powers and Antonio Reynoso introduced the “Community Organics and Recycling Empowerment (CORE)” Act, legislation that would allow for the recycling of organic and inorganic recyclables (primarily electronics) not collected at the curb. The bill would require three food scraps drop-off sites in each community district throughout the five boroughs. How the funds restored to the NYC Compost Project program will be allocated has not been reported yet. More details are expected to be available soon.
Image courtesy of Earth Matter NY