City Announces Roadmap for Citywide Composting Program

Mayor Eric Adams announcing the citywide composting program. The smart composting bins and brown bins are also pictured. Image Credit: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office.

The program expands on a Queens pilot program that diverted 12.7 million pounds of compostable material from landfills. On February 1, 2023, Mayor Eric Adams and Department of Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch* revealed a new roadmap for the creation and implementation of a citywide composting program. The program will be the nation’s largest and will roll out over the next 20 months. 

The new program will establish a weekly collection of compostable materials. The program uses efficiencies that help manage costs, including dual-bin trucks and managing the right size of a workforce to handle the program and reduce overtime. To participate, residents do not need to sign up, and will only need to set out compostable materials in a separate bin on their recycling day. While the city-provided compost brown bins are available, the new program also allows residents to use any bin of 55 gallons or less with a secure lid. 

The program will be rolled out in phases citywide, based on the following timeline:

– March 27, 2023: Queens service resumes following a brief seasonal pause and transitions to year-round service. There will be no more seasonal breaks for composting.

– October 2, 2023: Brooklyn service begins.

– March 25, 2024: Bronx and Staten Island service begins.

– October 7, 2024: Manhattan service begins, making the program citywide. 

Previous composting programs have only served up to 40 percent of city residents. Last year, the City launched a pilot composting program in Queens. The Queens pilot program managed to divert three times the material – 12.7 million pounds – at less than a third of the cost on average compared to prior programs. Further details about the results of the Queens program can be found here

There will also be an additional 150 smart composting bins installed in Manhattan. The smart composting bins initially started as a pilot program with 25 bins in Astoria, and have expanded to over 250 around the city. The bins can be accessed 24 hours a day through a new app, NYC Compost, which is available on both iOS and Android devices. The additional bins in Manhattan will now bring the citywide total to 400 bins.

Mayor Adams stated, “Today, we are going where no one has gone before. By the end of 2024, every New York City resident will have access to clean, convenient, curbside compost pickup from the Department of Sanitation. For more than two decades, past administrations have been working to achieve citywide composting — and today, I’m proud to announce we are getting it done. By reducing the food waste that we put into trash bags, our streets will look better, smell better, and best of all, will be dealing a blow to New York City’s number one enemy: rats.” 

Sanitation Commissioner Tisch stated, “When I started at DSNY nine months ago, Mayor Adams asked me for the best kind of curbside composting program — one people would actually use. “The program we rolled out in Queens last year worked — eight districts in Queens diverted more material than Park Slope, and Jamaica and St. Albans diverted more material than the entire old seven district legacy program combined! I’ll never forget the first time we looked at the numbers and said, ‘YAHTZEE: This is the model that can actually serve the entire city.’”

Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters stated, “We asked and they listened! The New York League of Conservation Voters is thrilled that Mayor Adams and Commissioner Tisch have announced the rollout of a citywide curbside composting program. There’s more work to do to get all New Yorkers to compost their food waste, but yesterday’s announcement is a major step toward reaching zero waste. And the proof is positive: In just three months in Queens, curbside composting kept 12.7 million pounds of yard and food waste out of our landfills. Expanding this program citywide means less greenhouse gasses escaping into the atmosphere and less garbage on the street – good news for the environment, bad news for the rats.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)

Note*: DSNY Commissioner Tisch will be speaking at the next CityLaw Breakfast on Thursday, February 16th. This is a virtual event and free to the public. For more information, click here


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