August 23, 2022 | Collection, Composting, Food Waste, Policies + Regulations

NYC (Re)Launches Curbside Food Scraps Collection

Top: Tdorante10, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Cropped by BioCycle

On August 8, New York City (NYC) Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner Jessica Tisch announced the launch of “the nation’s largest curbside composting program” starting this fall, “as weekly collection of compostable materials becomes automatic and guaranteed for every single resident in the borough of Queens.” Beginning October 3, all residential buildings in Queens will automatically receive weekly collection of leaf and yard waste, food scraps, and food-soiled paper products such as napkins, paper towels, and unlined plates. “This is the first time that an entire borough will receive this service — coming to an area that produces significant amounts of leaf and yard waste in particular, as Queens is home to 41% of New York City’s street trees,” said Adams. “There’s no sign-up required, and all that Queens residents need to do is put out their waste in a separate bag or bin. This is how we ‘Get Stuff Done’ for our city.”

The previous residential curbside collection program for yard trimmings and food scraps was suspended in May 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its expansion had been paused in 2018, after being rolled out to about 400,000 residential units. “This is the last [organics collection] program that DSNY will have to roll out,” said Tisch. “It is a new program that is the most efficient and easiest for New Yorkers to use. It is effective, affordable, and equitable.” New “extreme routing efficiencies” have been developed for this program, allowing DSNY to service Queens — the geographically largest of the five boroughs — at the “lowest cost-per district of any curbside composting program to date,” according to DSNY. Queens was selected because of the diversity of neighborhoods and housing stock. Residents may use an old DSNY-issued brown bin or a lidded, labeled bin of their own. A new brown bin can be requested online until October 1. Queens residential addresses of 10 or more units will be receiving bins from DSNY over the coming weeks. Participation in the program is voluntary. The weekly service that begins October 3 will run through late December. After a three-month pause for winter — when there is little to no yard trimmings to be collected — service will resume in late March 2023. Collected organics will be composted or anaerobically digested at DSNY facilities in NYC.

Smart compost bin

DSNY also will be placing 250 new “smart” composting drop-off bins this fall in communities in all five boroughs, with a special emphasis on areas in Manhattan above 125th Street, the South Bronx, the North Shore of Staten Island, and Central Brooklyn. The sealed bins will be on publicly accessible streets and opened via a smartphone app or a key card. A small-scale pilot to test use of these bins in Astoria, Queens began in late 2021, proving them to be a popular and effective way to collect material, according to DSNY. All food items are accepted, as well as food-soiled paper, dead flowers and houseplants, and BPI-certified compostable bowls/utensils. Households can use a plastic, paper, or compostable bag. Food scraps are collected from the bins Monday through Saturday by DSNY.

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