Since the Jersey City’s composting program kicked off two years ago, over 50,000 pounds of disposable waste have been diverted from landfills and instead used to fertilize home gardens, parks and community gardens across the city. This summer, despite the pandemic, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop announced an expansionfor the program with more dropoff sites and soon-to-come pilot for curbside pickup, using e-bikes.
The city program built off several years of local grassroots organizing around composting. With so many residents eager to participate with the city, it’s pushed local officials and environmentalists to consider infrastructure that can integrate composting as a main component of the city’s waste removal. “Every time we add another piece to [the program], it just immediately takes off,” says Melissa Kozakiewicz, chief innovation officer for the city of Jersey City. “We’re really excited by how Jersey City has embraced this program.”
Jersey City’s composting effort goes back to the launch of Sustainable Jersey City, a collaboration between local environmental groups, in 2011. The organization’s initial focus was on green infrastructure and stormwater management, but it quickly added food waste recycling to the list. “We had been very involved with the community garden network in Jersey City, and at one of the community garden sites we launched different forms of demonstration projects for composting,” explains founder Debra Italiano.