Composting In New York Just Got Easier

By recycling food scraps and other organic waste, New Yorkers are fertilizing local businesses and reducing the city's carbon footprint.
Presented byPresented by New Amsterdam Vodka
Sep 10, 2015·

Instead of tossing things like banana peels and coffee grounds in the trash, more and more New Yorkers are pitching in with composting efforts, helping regenerate local agriculture and grow business while taking it easy on the environment.

Thanks to the organic waste collection program started by GrowNYC in partnership with the Department of Sanitation in March 2011, New Yorkers have been recycling food scraps and other organic waste at GrowNYC Greenmarkets across the city. As of July, more than 5 million pounds of compostable garbage have been recycled through GrowNYC Greenmarkets since the start of the program, said David Hurd, director of recycling outreach and education for GrowNYC.

The popularity of the Greenmarket's food scrap initiative led to the creation of curbside compost collection at apartment buildings in May 2013, which has been making it easier for many more people to get involved, said Hurd.

GrowNYC’s goal is to make curbside pickup available to every New Yorker by the end of 2018.

It would be a phenomenal accomplishment, the benefits of which would reverberate across New York in unexpected ways, such as helping businesses like Brooklyn Brewery to use locally grown ingredients, Hurd said.

Around 36 percent of the waste stream in New York City is composed of nonorganic recyclables (such as cans, bottles, and plastic containers), but another 31 percent is organic waste that is compostable. The opportunity, said Hurd, is for New Yorkers to help the city almost double its landfill diversion, helping cut down on methane and other greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change.

Sure, for some people there may be an initial “ick factor” to get past, but with simple tricks such as refrigerating or freezing scraps before recycling them, people can avoid unpleasant smells, according to Hurd.

So the next time you’re about to chuck an apple core in the garbage, think about throwing it in the freezer instead and recycling it into compost. As millions of New Yorkers are demonstrating, it’s not waste—it’s brown gold.