New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner Jessica Tisch reminded New Yorkers that starting Monday, October 2, DSNY will provide curbside composting service to every Brooklyn resident, fulfilling Mayor Adams’ promise to implement the nation’s largest composting program. Following more than a decade of stops, starts, and broken commitments, New York City will be home to a bigger curbside composting program than the next two biggest programs — Los Angeles and San Francisco — combined. Between Queens and Brooklyn, the program will serve nearly 5 million residents.

“We promised to be the first administration to bring pain-free curbside composting to every block in every borough, and starting next week, we’re taking a massive step towards delivering on that promise,” said Mayor Adams. “We’re making it easy to compost in New York City, and we’re cutting rats off from their all-you-can-eat black bag buffet. Brooklyn never looked so good.”

“For decades, our food waste has fueled global warming in landfills and filled rat bellies on our streets,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “No more. We’re saying no to greenhouse gases and rat buffets, and saying yes to renewable energy, biosolids, and compost. And we’re building towards the day where every single New Yorker, in all five boroughs, has access to free — and hassle-free — curbside composting.”

“This program is something New Yorkers have been dreaming about for decades — easy, simple, and a SERVICE rather than an obligation. But there’s one group that doesn’t want you to compost: the rats,” said DSNY Commissioner Tisch. “Starting next week, rats will be begging Brooklynites not to compost, imploring residents of the most populous borough to continue leaving their food on the curb. But I know Brooklyn, and I know they’ll ignore the rats’ pleas.”

Unlike past failed composting programs of the past, there will be no sign-up required or limitations on the type of food waste that can be placed out. Residents simply set out all food scraps, leaf and yard waste, or food-soiled paper (e.g. paper towels or napkins) in a separate bin on their recycling day. DSNY will pick up those materials to turn them into usable compost or clean, renewable energy.

To prepare and educate residents, DSNY has engaged in a range of outreach efforts, including knocking on all one-to nine-unit buildings in the borough — about 250,000 doors in total — and sending mailers to all 2.4 million residents. DSNY has also made free “brown bins” available to all borough residents who requested them, and has, to-date, received nearly 50,000 requests, adding to the number of bins already in use by residents who had previously participated in a composting program. In an effort to make the program easy, residents have the flexibility to use any bin of 55 gallons or less, as long as it is labeled and has a secure lid. Residents may order a free bin until October 13th on DSNY’s website.

Mayor Adams released plans for the citywide program earlier this year in his State of the City address, which provided details for weekly collection of compostable material that will become an automatic, guaranteed, free, year-round service for every resident. The program was built on a number of efficiencies that drive down costs, including the use of dual-bin trucks and a right-sizing of the workforce to reduce overtime.

The city’s diversion rate — a measure of amount of material diverted from the waste stream to recycling programs — has been steadily stuck at 16-18 percent for decades. Material suitable for composting makes up approximately one-third of the waste stream, and diverting that material from the trash to the compost bin will be the most meaningful, strategic effort to increase the city’s diversion rate since the start of standard recycling 20 years ago. When sent to landfill, this material emits methane and other harmful greenhouse gases — and when left on curbs, it attracts rats.

After a winter break, boroughwide service restarted in Queens in March 2023 and has proven to exceed expectations, as the pilot phase diverted three times the material at less than one-third of the cost on average per district compared to old programs. The program is now year-round as it expands borough-by-borough. Just a few months after the start of the permanent Queens service, the Fiscal Year 2023 Mayor’s Management Report showed that New York City had diverted a record amount of compostable material from landfills: more than 200 million pounds.

Additional service will begin on the following timeline:

  • March 25, 2024: Service begins in Staten Island and the Bronx.
  • October 7, 2024: Service begins in Manhattan.

While the curbside program will be available to every resident, it is just one part of a wraparound strategy for the diversion of compostable material from landfills. The Adams administration has pioneered the installation of 400+ orange Smart Composting Bins and is well on its way to making good on its commitment to roll out composting at all 1,700 New York City Department of Education schools by the end of this school year.

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