Compost drop-off bins that residents can access 24/7 have arrived in dozens of New York City neighborhoods this year, in the city’s latest effort to expand organic waste collection. The Sanitation Department installed approximately 200 new compost “Smart Bins” in early 2023, up from just 30 launched as part of a pilot program in December 2021. The bins will serve as a complement to the city’s curbside composting program, which is available in certain community districts. The city also offers over 200 food scrap drop-off sites, most of which are open year round.

Residents can unlock and deposit food scraps in the bins using one of two smartphone applications. The majority of the new bins are located across upper Manhattan, The Bronx, and Brooklyn and accessible through the NYC Compost app, and another 10located in Lower Manhattan accessible through the eGate Digi app. The new fleet of bright orange “Smart Bins” comes after a year-long pilot program spearheaded by the Sanitation Department and the Alliance for Downtown New York. The Sanitation Department touted the program, stating they found the bins full of food and yard waste almost every day.

“We are thrilled with their success and look forward to expanding their presence across the city,” said  Vincent Gragnani, a press secretary for the Sanitation Department. Organic waste collection has become a growing priority as the city seeks to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, though its composting efforts have been rolled out in fits and starts over the last decade. Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg first introduced food scrap pickups—a practice, he said, that would eventually be mandatory—back in 2013.

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Author: Mary Cunningham, City Limits
Image: Adi Talwar, City Limits