The New York City Department of Sanitation, the nation’s largest municipal waste organization, GrowNYC, and the NYC Compost Project hosted by the New York Botanical Garden celebrated Friday, Dec. 17, the realization of a promise made in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2021 Earth Day announcements: the opening of more than 200 community-based Food Scrap Drop-off sites at which New Yorkers can bring food waste and other organic material to be turned into fertilizer or high-quality compost. While these sites were closed across the city during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number open today is significantly higher than before the crisis, giving a greater number of New Yorkers in every neighborhood a chance to reduce the material they send to landfills.
Up to one-third of the New York City waste-stream may be compostable, but when material is sent to landfills instead, it releases harmful methane gas. Improper disposal can also attract pests, a problem alleviated by the Food Scrap Drop-off sites. Since July 1, these sites have diverted 1.8 million pounds of material from landfills.
“DSNY is absolutely committed to getting compostable material out of landfills, and part of that is making composting accessible to all. We’re proud to work with GrowNYC, the NYC Compost Project, and other partners to operate over 200 sites, spread across the five boroughs,” said Edward Grayson, commissioner of the NYC Department of Sanitation.
GrowNYC President and CEO Marcel Van Ooyen added, “We are thrilled to celebrate this moment with the New York City Department of Sanitation, and we’re grateful for their leadership regarding the City’s zero waste goals,” said GrowNYC President and CEO Marcel Van Ooyen. “In support of these goals, we aim to make composting second nature to all New Yorkers through the operation of residential food scrap drop-off sites. This work is so impactful, as composting food scraps is one of the easiest ways that New York City residents can help combat climate change, diverting organic materials from landfills and transforming them into nutrients for our soil to grow more healthy, local food.”
“The compost program at New Roots is a vital component in our efforts towards sustainability and environmental justice in the South Bronx. Our 0.5-acre farm heavily relies on the use of compost as a soil amendment that contributes to the soil and crop health. Since the farm’s inception we’ve encouraged our farm community to compost the organic waste of the farm and their own food scraps to build our onsite compost program. Through our Tuesday farmer’s market we open this opportunity for anyone in the community to drop off food scraps. We have seen how more and more folks have embraced composting as a normal part of their routine. It was therefore a natural addition for farm to become a major drop off site,” said Maria Sigalas, International Rescue Committee (IRC) economic empowerment manager. “We want to see more of this and greater growth for composting throughout the Bronx and NYC.”
The celebration occurred at New Roots Community Farm, an IRC project operated in partnership with the New York Botanical Garden and GrowNYC.