Mandatory Curbside Composting Coming to Brooklyn!

Green Tips | September 29, 2023

New York City’s curbside composting program is coming to all five boroughs before the end of 2024, and the next stop is Brooklyn, with collections beginning on Monday, October 2. 

Under the leadership of Mayor Adams, curbside composting began as a pilot program in Queens, and in just three months it prevented a staggering 12.7 million pounds of yard and food waste from reaching landfills. In January, the mayor announced that the program would expand citywide. 

To be as effective as possible, however, it could not be a voluntary measure. Then, thanks to the leadership in the City Council, the Zero Waste Act was passed this summer. This legislative package included Local Law 85, sponsored by Council Member Shahana Hanif, making curbside composting mandatory as it rolls out across the city over the next year.

Yard waste, food scraps, and food-soiled paper constitute a staggering 34% of all residential waste in New York City and reducing waste sent to landfills is a vital part of New York City’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. 

When organic waste ends up in landfills, it decomposes and produces methane gas, a greenhouse gas more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. This gas further pollutes the air in low-income communities and communities of color, where landfills have historically been situated due to environmental racism.

But the benefits of composting go beyond waste reduction. It also enriches soil quality, enhances water retention, and creates opportunities for parks, green spaces, urban greening, and job growth in composting and urban greening.

What items are eligible for composting? The Department of Sanitation (DSNY) will pick up all leaf and yard waste, food scraps, and food-soiled paper. That includes meat, bones, dairy, prepared foods, and even greasy uncoated paper plates and pizza boxes.

(Do not compost diapers, personal hygiene products, animal waste, wrappers, non-paper packaging, and foam products. And don’t compost otherwise recyclable materials.) 

How do you compost? It’s pretty straightforward. Food scraps and food-soiled paper can be placed in any compost-labeled bin (55 gallons or less) with a secure lid or in your DSNY brown bin. Leaf and yard waste separation will also be mandatory, starting in Brooklyn in October.

You can order bins, decals, tip sheets, and building signage here.

The program will extend to the Bronx and Staten Island on March 25, 2024, and to Manhattan on October 7, 2024.

The city has allocated over $23 million to the program. This includes funding for bin deliveries, outreach, communications, and the hiring of new staff to facilitate collection operations.

For those who live in areas still awaiting curbside composting pickup, the city has organized dozens of food-scrap drop-off points throughout the five boroughs. A map of the locations can be found here. 

For those in Upper Manhattan, you can also use the Smart Compost bins that are placed on street corners. The orange metal containers, located in Morningside Heights, Central Harlem, East Harlem, West Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood, have a scanning link on the front and invite you to download the NYC Compost App with your phone in order to open the bins to dispose of waste.

Mandatory composting has been a long time priority for the League and we applaud Mayor Adams, the City Council, and DSNY Commissioner Tisch for making it a reality. And of course, we salute those who do the real heavy lifting every day of the week, our dedicated sanitation workers—New York’s Strongest.

Additional resources:

NYLCVEF hosted a Lunch and Learn webinar, which can be viewed here.

DSNY will be hosting information sessions on the following dates and times, just follow the links to register:

Other zero waste measures passed by the City Council:

  1. Local Law 86 of 2023, sponsored by Council Member Sandy Nurse, codifies the goal of zero waste by 2030, holding the city accountable and requiring regular reports on progress.

  2. Local Law 87 of 2023, also sponsored by Council Member Nurse, ensures transparency by mandating regular reports on efforts to meet zero waste goals and develop a comprehensive plan.

  3. Local Law 88 of 2023, sponsored by Council Member Keith Powers, brings recycling closer to communities by creating community recycling centers across boroughs.

  4. Local Law 89 of 2023, also sponsored by Council Member Powers, establishes organic waste drop-off sites throughout the city.
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