NYC Testing Food Composting

City may require separating food scraps in the future
By Kristen Meriwether
Kristen Meriwether
Kristen Meriwether
June 17, 2013 Updated: June 17, 2013

NEW YORK— Taking out the trash in New York City already leads to more options than are often on your dinner plate: glass, plastic, paper, trash. If a pilot program goes off as planned residents will have another bin to choose from—food waste.

Beginning last month, 3,500 residents on Staten Island began a food composting pilot, with 43 percent of the homes participating within the first three weeks. There are already organic food containers in 90 schools with plans to expand the program to 600 schools by next year.

At the Helena, an environmentally friendly highrise in Midtown Manhattan, residents on select floors began separating their food waste in March, with a reported 125 pounds collected per day.

The goal of the program is to reduce the 1.2 million tons of food waste per year in all five boroughs of New York City.

“The composting plan is the final frontier of recycling in New York City,” said Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway on June 17 when speaking to reporters at an unrelated press conference. “We think this is a major step to where we really want to get, which is sending little to nothing to landfills.”

Residents in the home pilot programs are given a small container to store in their kitchen and dispose of food waste. When the container is full, they dispose of them in a marked container. Program participant residents on Staten Island have spots outside, but for residents of the Helena, each floor has a separate 26-gallon closed bin.

The city’s housing stock is diverse, with both new and old highrises. Holloway admitted finding a place for the bins could prove a challenge, but it did not deter him from finding solutions. “We will have to get creative as far as where do you put the infrastructure and what you put in place,” Holloway said. “We are going to test that.”

The program is currently voluntary in the pilot program, but Holloway said he expects the program to expand to the rest of city become mandatory.

Kristen Meriwether