An update on composting in the big apple

| June 12, 2014

Every year, New York City residents send approximately 3.2 million tons of waste to landfills. That’s well over one-third of a ton of waste for every single man, woman, and child, every year. Transporting and managing that waste also costs the city $300 million dollars per year.

If you’re reading this and thinking: “That’s too much,” you’re not alone. A proposed solution: turning New York Citizens into urban composters. The city hopes to divert a substantial amount of the waste away from landfills by funding a massive home composting program.


The city aims to fund a large-scale home composting program. From Robert Benner.

There have already been pilot composting programs in several neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods (Windsor Terrace, Brookyln) were more enthusiastic than others (Westerleigh, Staten Island). City officials are banking on the fact that rolling out the composting program in additional neighborhoods will pay off. It’s a gamble, since it costs money to produce, distribute, and collect the brown “Food and Yard Waste” bins.

Will people participate? Vivian Yee of the New York Times reports that: “Composting is coming to 70,000 more households in Brooklyn and Queens, including most of Bay Ridge, where, on one recent evening before garbage was due for pickup, about one out of every three households who had rolled their waste to the curb had included one of the brown bins.”

It may be an environmentally- and economically-friendly movement, but not everyone is on board. Yee’s report cites myriad concerns from residents, including the fear that home composting would “stink” (presumably literally, but also perhaps figuratively) and would be more trouble than it’s worth.

Others were more positive about the project. “We love it!” one resident told Yee of the opportunity to compost. The resident added that: “It’s, like, a quest now to see how little [my husband] can put in the trash.” Another said that they recycle or compost “everything but diapers.”

Right now, composting in New York City is optional—even if you’ve been provided with a brown bin. But in a few years, it will reportedly be mandatory. The city already issues summonses for recycling violations (more than 51,000 summonses last year alone, in fact), so presumably citizens should know what to expect.

Many trends start in New York City, so officials throughout the rest of the country will undoubtedly be keeping an eye on the big apple to see how successfully they’re able to convince their residents to recycle their apples. (See what I did there?)

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Category: Blog Landing Page, Food, Recycling programs, Regulations

About the Author ()

Ellen Hunter Gans has been writing for RecycleReminders since the blog’s inception. She is passionate about words, new media and, of course, recycling.

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