It has taken Mayor Eric Adams less than two months to break a major campaign promise. During his campaign, Adams vowed to expand curbside composting services to every city neighborhood. Now, claiming the program is "broken," Adams wants to cut $18.2 million from his proposed $98.5 billion budget by halting the re-introduction and expansion of curbside compost pickup, The New York Times reports.
The on-again, off-again program, noted for its distinctive latching brown bins, will continue to operate in five Community Board districts in Brooklyn and two in Manhattan. Beyond that, its fate is uncertain.
The proposed freezing of the program triggered immediate criticism from environmentalists, who note that organic waste makes up 34% of the city’s residential garbage, and composting keeps it out of landfills, where it emits methane, a greenhouse gas that is far more potent than carbon. And just as important for a city with a growing rat problem, advocates say, separating food scraps and other organic waste into vermin-proof bins reduces the attractiveness of the city’s garbage to rodents.
“The consequences of not equitably expanding the organics program are more rats ripping open our trash bags and thus more litter on our streets,” Sandy Nurse, a City Council member from Brooklyn who heads the sanitation committee, said in a statement. She called the budget cuts “a missed opportunity to address the climate crisis.”
Adams's proposed budget cut is the latest snag for a program that climate experts say is one of the easiest ways to reduce New York’s planet-warming emissions. It comes just weeks after Rohit Aggarwala, Adams’s new chief climate officer, pledged that climate impact would be taken into account in every city decision.
Of the 3.1 million tons of garbage that New Yorkers produce each year, the city recycles less than 20%, well below other major cities like Seattle and San Francisco that have mandatory compost separation.
Meanwhile, co-op and condo boards face a looming deadline to cut their buildings' carbon emissions to meet caps established by the city's ambitious Climate Mobilization Act. Failure to do so will result in stiff fines.
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