Organic waste curbside collection begins rolling out in NYC

The largest city in the country is joining a growing list of cities stepping up to ensure food and other organic waste doesn't end up in landfills.

Food & farming

Danielle Melgar, Food & Agriculture Advocate, poses with organic waste collection bins in Brooklyn Heights
Danielle Melgar | TPIN
Danielle Melgar, Food & Agriculture Advocate, poses with organic waste collection bins in Brooklyn Heights

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Sam Shelffo-McGrath

Former Food & Agriculture Intern

New York City’s new residential organic waste pickup program is rolling out this fall in Brooklyn, building on the remarkable success of a voluntary organic waste pilot program in Queens. The pilot diverted 12.7 million pounds of organic waste from landfills in its first season – that’s the weight of more than 28 Statues of Liberty!

The New York City Council passed the Zero Waste Act on June 8, joining the ranks of cities from Honolulu and San Francisco to Minneapolis and Duluth that are implementing similar programs. In addition to mandating curbside organic waste collection, the bill package set new zero waste targets and accountability metrics for the city. It also committed the city to bolstering community composting infrastructure, including establishing a minimum for the number of organic waste drop off sites in each borough to ensure adequate access.

City of New York | Public Domain
New York City Council Members are taking action to curb food waste

Council Member Shahana Hanif, one of the members spearheading the legislation, cited the city’s vulnerable coastal location as a key motivator behind the climate-focused policy.

“As a frontline and coastal community, it is essential to our city’s long-term survival that we act to address climate change. ”

– Council Member Shahana Hanif

When food heads to landfills, it creates methane, which warms the climate much faster than carbon dioxide over the short term. Food waste accounts for about eight percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions globally. In the city of over eight million, New Yorkers create 11,000 tons of residential waste daily. By diverting New Yorkers’ food waste from landfills, the city will make an important stride in shrinking its carbon footprint.

After the pilot in Queens and Brooklyn this fall, the program will expand to the Bronx and Staten Island in March 2024, and finally Manhattan in October 2024. After allowing for an adjustment period, it will become mandatory in all five boroughs by April 2025.

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Authors

Danielle Melgar

Food & Agriculture, Advocate, PIRG

Danielle works to ensure our food system produces enough nutritious food to feed everyone, without threatening our health, the planet, or the ability of future generations to grow food. Danielle lives in Chicago, where she enjoys staying active in the outdoors, trying out new recipes, and writing short stories.

Sam Shelffo-McGrath

Former Food & Agriculture Intern

Student at the University of Chicago

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