Composting Expands

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

compost1.jpg A week\'s worth of food scraps dumped into a bin in Fort Greene.

New York City estimates 30% of its waste stream could be diverted for composting. Pilot curbside pick-up areas are set to expand in April and will include more of Park Slope, as well as parts of Gowanus, Sunset Park, and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn and Glendale and parts of Middle Village and Maspeth in Queens. Ron Gonen, DSNY's deputy commissioner of sanitation, recycling and sustainability, answers questions about the current drop-off and curbside programs, what can and can't be included, how to prevent odors and attracting the attention of rats, and where all the resulting compost gets used.


Ron Gonen

Comments [23]

frances from Manhattan

The same UES residents accused of wanting to avoid responsibility by fighting the 10-story garbage plant in their midst have had very high success stats for composting and recycling, in partnership with the Lower East Side Ecology Center and thanks to the efforts of hardworking folks like Sarah Gallagher. If the billions of $$ required for Bloomberg's (now DeBlasio's) SWMP garbage stations, including the 1 billion needed to construct and maintain the 91st Street plant, were put into a meaningful effort to reduce the amount of garbage our city produces, maybe we wouldn't have to spend all that money just to ship Manhattan's present garbage load to exactly where it goes now, but from farther away.

Mar. 13 2014 05:52 PM
thatgirl from manhattan

The Truth from Becky - Your original comment:
"Yucck! All of this rotting food in the house/freezer, sounds like a nasty recipe for roaches!" doesn't imply at all that you've tried it--only that you're capable of a disproportionately immature response to it, which is nothing new.

And nope. Sorry to disappoint you, but we're roach-free. Grow up.

Mar. 12 2014 01:50 PM
Jf from The future

Using free waste cooking oil instead of diesel fuel will reduce lung cancer, toxic emissions, and save money.

Mar. 12 2014 12:33 PM
Jf from The future

Please ask your guest why they don't pick up waste oil an fuel their diesel fleet with it. This would considerably reduce lung cancer and other causes of heavy diesel pollution.

Mar. 12 2014 12:27 PM
Cynthia from Sunset Park, Brooklyn

Anaerobic and aerobic composting are two different processes with two different results.

Green Market vegetable+ composting creates compost for soil enhancement by way of organic material. The City's Organics Waste Collection program will collect all foodstuff for anaerobic processing for biofuel.

There will be challenges to face in the City's anaerobic composting vs. the Green Market and backyard vegetable+ aerobic composting. The two are not completely compatible, but for those who have never composted food wastes, the City's program will be a great start.

For us passionate composting folks, we'll have to separate our Green Market/backyard compost from any other food waste that we would not put in our local compost bins. I suspect the Green Markets will need to stay vigilant as to what folks put in their bins as the City's program takes off.

Mar. 12 2014 12:15 PM
The Truth from Becky

@thatgirl...never said I haven't tried it! FYI - I do it but I don't keep it rotting indoors..I make sure it's delivered to the facility promptly - and you probably DO have roaches in your apt.

Mar. 12 2014 12:14 PM
thatgirl from manhattan

Tammy - It's really easy. I don't know where you live, but there are places to take compost in Manhattan; as I mentioned before, we take ours to the Union Square Market, where the Lower East Side Ecology Center collects it, or the Abingdon Square Farmers Market on Saturdays by noon.

Simple Human and other manufacturers make a 2 gal. container that has a weighted lid and a place for a replaceable charcoal filter within the lid, which helps with smell. A pail within some containers can be either lined in a biodegradeable BioBag, or a plastic bag, which you can empty wherever you're dropping off your compost.

It's easy--just deposit any vegetable matter, plus egg shells into it throughout the week. If you produce a lot, you can keep the first bag in the freezer while you wait to take a second. We have no ambient smell from it whatsoever. Google a place to drop composting wherever you are.

The Truth from Becky - Our building has a Gristedes in the ground floor, so we're normally prime roach magnets. We've had zero roaches in our apartment since we started doing this seven years prior, so there goes your "theory." Don't complain until you've tried it.

Mar. 12 2014 12:06 PM
John from NYC

Can you please ask your ask why doesn't the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) bring back the Fall Leaf Compost program? This had to save NYC money instead disposing all this material out of state with the regular garbage. Why don't DSNY officials take a short trip to visit Connecticut to see what programs they have for the fall leaves. We need someone who can change things at the DSNY instead of having these programs and staffed with overtime pay by DSNY employees. Why not have seasonal workers for the Fall Leaf removal?

Mar. 12 2014 12:03 PM
Terri from Brooklyn

I save my scraps (for the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket)in a sealed container in my kitchen, and there's no smell---when the container is closed---at all.

The key is SEALED: the container is airtight.

In any case, while it works to bring it to the greenmarket, it can be inconvenient, esp. when the weather is bad. During this winter I've kept a larger closed container on my fire escape into which I can put multiple bags of the kitchen scraps, but I don't know how well that will hold up once the weather warms. And boy oh boy does it stink when I do open that larger bin. . . .

Mar. 12 2014 12:01 PM
RJ from prospect hts

The farmers' markets don't take meat, chicken, or fish waste

Mar. 12 2014 11:58 AM

When will the south slope pickup start, and will we be getting bins from the city? Do we have to request them?

Mar. 12 2014 11:57 AM
Michael from Green Wood Heights

This will be especally valuable when it expands to the rest of Green Wood Heights because it should help with our raccoon problem.

Mar. 12 2014 11:57 AM
The Truth from Becky

Yucck! All of this rotting food in the house/freezer, sounds like a nasty recipe for roaches!

Mar. 12 2014 11:57 AM
Bryony from Park Slope

I've been composting vegetable scraps through the Grow NYC drop-off sites, and I find it great and not all that smelly but have a question for the commissioner:

Who deals with cleaning the bins in multi-unit buildings? I live in an 8-unit building with a pretty hands-off super, and I can imagine that the bin will get pretty unpleasant, especially with meat and other smellier food products.

Mar. 12 2014 11:57 AM

can you talk about how to compost if you live in an area that doesn't have a composting program? I'm stymied.

Mar. 12 2014 11:57 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Morningside Heights is not a "poor" neighborhood -- it's the Columbia U. area!

So, why would the guest use that as an example of a lower income neighborhood?

Mar. 12 2014 11:56 AM
Janet from Staten Island

We were one of the first neighborhoods in Staten Island to start composting. We compost in our backyard but the city pick up takes more things than I wish to compost - such as bones, meat etc. We also do not compost in the backyard in the winter since it takes too long to break down. We have decreased our garbage to maybe on bag each week - all else is either recycled or composted. People have complained about the smell. It may be a little bit in the summer but it is not that horrible.

Mar. 12 2014 11:55 AM
that girl from manhattan

We're not part of the pilot program in Chelsea, but we've been composting on our own for about 7 years. We've been taking it to Union Square and giving it to the Lower East Side Ecology Center, who turns it into marvelous compost. They also collect it at the Abingdon Square farmers market on Saturdays.

It's easy to do, and our home refuse, as a result doesn't smell as bad in the interim. Just get a lidded 2 gal. container and use BioBags to collect it. Put it in the freezer while saving it.

Please integrate Chelsea to the program!

Mar. 12 2014 11:54 AM
RJ from prospect hts

There's also the GrowNYC program that has compost collection at the farmers' market. I live near Grand Army Plaza and I bring my material there. I have a glass box in my refrigerator with my NYT bag and when that's full between Saturday farmers' markets I put the full bags in a plastic box in the fridge, reducing the smell problem.

Mar. 12 2014 11:53 AM
Abbe from NYC

I bought this fabulous compost container from,default,pd.html?start=13&q=compost

Mar. 12 2014 11:51 AM
Danielle from Seattle

I composted in Sunnyside, Queens for several years with a local, volunteer-based group that collected scraps weekly! Those organizations exist all over the city and collect at many NYC Greenmarkets It was so easy and I was amazed how little waste I produced when you factored out food scraps. I recently moved to Seattle, where composting is mandatory- I'm loving it. :)

Mar. 12 2014 11:50 AM
Carmen from Brooklyn

Great program! I'm down to 1 bag of garbage every 2 weeks.

Mar. 12 2014 11:48 AM
Sue from Harlem

Deputy Commissioner: PLEASE expand composting ASAP! I could get my trash down to about zilch with composting. Looking forward to composting coming to Harlem.

Mar. 12 2014 11:47 AM

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