New York – New York City 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. 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 percent of New York City's street trees.
"Starting this fall, we're bringing guaranteed, weekly curbside composting to the entire borough of Queens – taking action to keep our streets clean and simultaneously fight climate change," said Mayor Adams. "This launch makes New York City home to the largest curbside composting program in the country and will help Queens residents easily get rid of yard waste, food scraps, and food-soiled paper products in an environmentally conscious way. There's no sign-up required, and all that Queens residents need to do it put out their waste in a separate bag or bin. This is how we ‘Get Stuff Done' for our city."
"Giving the entire borough of Queens curbside organics collection is part of our larger citywide cleanup," said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. "Since the start of the year, we have provided funding to put organics collection in every public school, added 250 smart composting bins to our streets, launched a citywide containerization pilot, and increased litter basket collection. And this is just the beginning."
"Mayor Adams tasked us with developing a new program that would be effective, affordable, and equitable," said DSNY Commissioner Tisch. "We looked at what had worked in the past, as well as what hadn't, and developed a smart, innovative solution that is going to be easier for the people of New York City, harder for rats, and better for the planet."
New York City has developed new extreme routing efficiencies 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. Queens was selected because of the diversity of communities and housing stock. The borough also includes large leaf and yard waste districts in the east, dense multifamily homes in the west, and a variety of historically underserved neighborhoods that have suffered the consequences of environmental injustice.
The new program will include all leaf and yard waste – which residents already collect and place out separately from trash – as well as all food scraps and food-soiled paper products, such as napkins, paper towels, and unlined plates.
Unlike past composting programs, there is no sign-up required for this new program. Residents of Queens need to simply set out their waste on the assigned day – all collection schedule information will be available on DSNY's composting website by mid-September – and let DSNY pick it up to turn into usable compost or clean, renewable energy.
To make this program even more accessible, DSNY will proactively deliver bins to all Queens residential addresses of 10 or more units in the coming weeks.
When waste decomposes at a landfill, it creates methane, a potent and dangerous greenhouse gas. Separating compostable material from household trash is one easy way to ensure a cleaner, greener city, and yard and leaf waste provide New Yorkers with the easiest way to compost, as these materials already exists outside the home. About one third of the city's residential waste is compostable material, which can help gardens grow or create power through renewable energy – all from a discarded apple core.
In addition to improving sustainability, composting also improves cleanliness. Rats and other pests feed on organic material in trash bags, and secure compost bins make it more difficult to access that material. To participate in the program, residents must place food waste in a labeled bin with a secure lid or a bag to prevent pests and odors. Residents may use an old DSNY-issued brown bin or a lidded, labeled bin of their own. Residents who need a compost bin may order one online until October 1 at nyc.gov/curbsidecomposting. DSNY decals are available at nyc.gov/CompostingBinDecal.
Weekly service will begin October 3 and run through late December. After a three-month pause for winter – when there is little to no yard waste to be collected – service will resume in late March 2023. The history of composting programs in New York City and comparable cities shows that during the start-up phase, yard waste is the primary driver of tonnage collected – producing far more compostable material than food scraps.
New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents may contact email@example.com with questions about how to participate in this program.
The Adams administration also announced the placement of 250 new "smart" composting bins this fall – vastly more than the 100 promised earlier this year. The sealed bins will be on publicly accessible streets and opened via a smartphone app. The city has completed a small-scale pilot of these bins that began in late 2021, proving them to be a popular and effective way to keep compostable material out of landfills. The new bins will be placed 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.