In the beginnings of a spring the East Coast cannot see soon enough, plants are blooming and warm-weather colors are starting to return. While most of the country may not enjoy the luxury of curbside composting year-round, many established programs go far beyond the leftover crunchy leaves and twigs, limbs, sod and grass clippings that will start to accumulate this time of year. Some cities, such as San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, introduced curbside food waste collection in hopes of eradicating the solid waste food group from landfills. In hopes to join other cities in year-round composting, New York City’s Department of Sanitation launched an organic waste curbside collection pilot program on October 1, 2013 that will continue until July 1, 2015 as a voluntary program for residents and a mandatory program for select schools. According to nyc.gov, Local Law 77 of the New York City Recycling Law concurrently suspends residential leaf and yard waste collection across certain neighborhoods of the city that generate large amounts of yard waste until July 1, 2016. Westerleigh, on Staten Island, was the city’s first neighborhood to introduce the pilot program reaching 3,200 residences. In the fall of 2013, parts of the Bronx and Brooklyn were added to the list for a total of approximately 30,000 homes. In addition, NYC Organics Collection believes during the 2013-14 school year, the number of schools participating in organics collection will reach well over 300. NYC Organics Collection is recruiting large multi-unit residential buildings, agencies and institutions and private businesses to participate in the pilot program. To date, the program services two Department of Homeless Services shelters in Brooklyn, three private schools in Manhattan and Brooklyn and two high-rise residential buildings in Manhattan. With the initial success New York’s pilot program has achieved, there is a high hope to spread the effort citywide across all five burrows. According to nyc.gov, organics make up almost 30% of the city’s residential and institutional waste stream. By collecting this material, the city can decrease the amount of materials sent to landfill and incinerators, reducing expensive export costs and greenhouse gas emission, all while generating a valuable material that can be used as fertilizer in city parks and gardens. This pilot program brings New York one step closer to operating as a sustainable city and gives hope to other cities around the country. What does this mean for other municipalities? It is time to get in the game of eco-friendly practices. If feasible, making these practices more affordable for other municipalities is another eco-leap that will have to be evaluated.
NYC Tests its Organics Recycling Mettle
New York City’s curbside composting pilot program debuted last fall with hopes of expanding citywide if successful.