By Carol Tannenhauser
After being suspended in May 2020, because of pandemic-related budget cuts, curbside compost collection service will resume this October in some New York City neighborhoods — but the Upper West Side is not one of them.
The reason, according to the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), is lack of “demand.” This could be because, unlike before the pandemic, “buildings must now sign up for the service instead of being automatically enrolled,” Gothamist reported.
“Our curbside composting collection service is based on neighborhood demand,” said Vincent Gragnani, a spokesperson for DSNY, in an email to WSR. “The more people who sign up in a given area, the more likely we are to add that area. While the Upper West Side is not part of the initial rollout in October, we are continuing to evaluate neighborhoods based on signups, and we expect to add new areas every month. We encourage all interested residents to express their interest online at nyc.gov/curbsidecomposting so that we can design the most efficient routes.”
Composting — the recycling of certain organic materials — is a key part of NYC’s plan to reduce emissions that exacerbate global warming. “Food scraps, food-soiled paper, and yard waste make up a third of the trash New Yorkers throw away,” Gragnani said. “Rather than send these materials to landfills hundreds of miles away, curbside collection in brown bins helps us turn these materials into compost right here in New York City.”
What’s so bad about landfills (in addition to the fact that they are disproportionately located in disadvantaged areas)?
“Unlike composting sites, waste buried in landfills must break down without oxygen,” Inside Climate News explained. “A byproduct of this anaerobic decomposition is methane, which is 84 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide when measured over a 20-year-period, and a significant contributor to climate change. Landfill emissions are currently the U.S.’s third largest source of human-produced methane. Aerobic composting reduces or eliminates release of methane.”
“The finished compost nourishes our soil for healthier parks and gardens,” Gragnani added. “Also, our brown bins have latching lids that make it harder for rodents and pests to get to your food waste. It’s much easier for them to rip open a bag at the curb. In short, curbside compost collection helps to keep our neighborhoods clean and healthy — and makes our city more sustainable.”
Again, if you would like to see curbside compost collection return to the Upper West Side, you must express your interest by enrolling at nyc.gov/curbsidecomposting.
For a first-person account of why it’s not so hard to compost in an apartment and how to do it, click here. (It was written in 2019, so parts are dated.)
Image via DSNY.