NYC to launch Queens-wide composting program in Oct.

The time for composting in every corner of Queens is now just around the corner.

The city’s composting program — which has taken hold in just fits and starts through the years — is expanding to the entire borough of Queens come October, Mayor Adams and Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch announced Monday.

The plan will cost the city approximately $2 million dollars in additional funding and will include providing residents who want them with composting bins for organic yard waste and food scraps.

nyc to launch queens-wide composting program in oct.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner Jessica Tisch today announce the launch of the nation’s largest curbside composting program starting this fall, at the The Unisphere in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Queens, on Monday, August 8, 2022. (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

“This will make New York City home to the largest curbside composting program in the nation,” Adams said during a press conference at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. “We’re going to lead the way in fighting climate change, but we have to act in ways that are smart, targeted and cost efficient.”

With the population of Queens at around 2.2 million residents, the new program will cost the city less the $1 per person in additional city funding. Under the plan, residents will receive composting bins from the city for free upon request, and buildings with 10 apartments or more will be “proactively” supplied with the bins.

nyc to launch queens-wide composting program in oct.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner Jessica Tisch today announce the launch of the nation’s largest curbside composting program starting this fall, at the The Unisphere in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Queens, on Monday, August 8, 2022. (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

Residents can also use any bin they want for compostable material they bring to the curb — as long as it has a cover so rats can’t get in, Tisch said.

Weekly pick ups of compostable materials in Queens are expected to begin on October 3 — right in time for the fall when many residents will be raking up and tossing out fallen leaves. The borough is home to 41% of the city’s street trees, city officials noted.

The free bins will be available to Queens residents starting October 1.

Tisch predicted that the benefits of the expanded program will prove numerous. Placing food scraps in sealed bins at the curb instead of in garbage bags will help keep rats away — as the city continues its efforts to bring the rodent population down.

And, if executed effectively, the program also promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at garbage dumps.

“Instead of decomposing in a landfill and creating toxic greenhouse gases, the material will be composted and turned into soil, or processed through an anaerobic digester and turned into renewable energy,” Tisch said.

After promising to expand curbside composting pick up during his campaign for mayor, Adams suspended the expansion of the city’s composting program earlier this year, contending that the program in place was “broken.”

Adams’ administration went back to the drawing board, though — and Monday’s announcement is part of the result.

nyc to launch queens-wide composting program in oct.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner Jessica Tisch today announce the launch of the nation’s largest curbside composting program starting this fall, at the The Unisphere in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Queens, on Monday, August 8, 2022. (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

The new plan, said Tisch, will cost far less per community board district — about $360,000 per district compared to more than $800,000 under the old plan. Those savings come from “routing, fleet and workforce efficiencies,” she said.

But Tisch said making the program mandatory is not on the horizon, at least anytime soon.

“We can’t and we shouldn’t make this mandatory at this time. I think partially because it’s only being rolled out in Queens so it would be an undue burden on building managers in Queens,” she said. “But what we’d really like with this program is for Queens to show the rest of the city that this can be done effectively, that people will participate.”

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