New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on April 22 that the city would resume its curbside composting program, which had been suspended due to the budgetary impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the city, the program will be available to the 3.5 million New Yorkers who previously had a curbside recycling service. Residents and building operators will be able to voluntarily enroll in the program to receive a free weekly curbside composting service. Registration will launch in August, with collection services set to begin in October and expand as more buildings register.
Beyond the selective collection program, the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) announced the expansion of community-based composting, reuse and hazardous waste disposal programs.
âToday is Earth Day, but New York City’s commitment to sustainability lasts all year,â says de Blasio. âNo other municipality has implemented a composting program like ours, and this new city-wide program will advance the cause of environmental justice in the five boroughs.
âWhen people think of the work of the Sanitation Department, they too often think that it’s our job to do away with the waste. But we are a sustainable development organization, one of the largest municipal resource recovery operations in the world, âsaid DSNY Commissioner Edward Grayson. âI would like to thank the mayor of Blasio for his commitment to this mission, and I am delighted to see the brown bins return to the streets.
In addition to the revival of voluntary curbside composting, the city’s food waste drop-off program will be significantly expanded, from more than 100 community sites currently to more than 200 this fall. From September 2020 to February of this year, many food waste drop-off programs broke attendance records. Collectively, 1.3 million pounds of materials were collected and diverted during this time.
According to DSNY, the growth of this program will be achieved through a restoration of funding from GrowNYC’s Greenmarket Composting program and an expansion of funding from the NYC Compost Project to support community repositories, composting and education. Additionally, the program will include a one-of-a-kind pilot project using “smart bins,” in which New Yorkers use an app to access public food waste drop-off bins, preventing cross-contamination and abuse.
As part of DSNY’s announcement, the city noted that its school composting service will also be back in the 2021-22 school year. Nearly 1,000 schools that had services before COVID-19 will resume curbside composting.
Beyond composting, the city has announced the expansion or restoration of several other sustainability programs. SAFE disposal events, which help collect solvents, automotive, flammable and electronic products, and other regulated waste, will increase from two per district each year – a total of 10 – to nearly 60 per year, one for each community district. According to the DSNY, “this six-fold increase means fewer chemicals and hazardous products on our streets, in our waterways or in landfills.”
Special waste drop-off points, sites around town where residents can drop off harmful materials that do not belong in household garbage, will also reopen from July. These sites have been closed since March 2020.
Finally, DSNY will begin offering reuse swap events throughout the city to prevent usable items from ending up in landfills and help them find interested parties who can reuse them.