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New Bill Would Revive Curbside Organic Waste Pickup

New York City

Organics recycling, curbside pickup, brown bins, landfills, greenhouse gases.
May 6, 2022

The brown bin isn't dead just yet. A bill has been introduced in the New York City Council that would revive the on-again, off-again campaign to keep organic waste out of landfills, 6sqft reports. 

Under the legislation, sponsored by Council Member Shahana Hanif, most New Yorkers would be required to separate organic waste from other waste for curbside collection. Citywide pickup of organic waste, including food scraps and yard debris, would begin by the middle of 2023. The initiative would apply to all residential buildings, including co-ops and condominiums, with the exception of public housing residences. According to Hanif, a universal compost program could eliminate nearly a third of the city’s landfill waste and cut billions of metric tons of greenhouse gases.

“Almost ten years after the first composting program began in New York City, I am so proud to be introducing legislation to bring this essential program to every neighborhood in our City,” Hanif said in a statement. “Composting is good for our environment and economy, and its expansion to every corner of our City is long overdue.”

The city’s Independent Budget Office estimates that the program would cost the Department of Sanitation an additional $39 million for the first three years, have them break even in the fourth year, and save the city $33 million every year after.

It remains unclear whether the bill will have Mayor Eric Adams’ support. In his February preliminary budget, the mayor proposed suspending the existing organic waste pickup program. In his final $99.7 billion budget, Adams added $17.9 million to expand food waste drop-off sites at city schools, with the entire school system expected to be part of the program over the next two years.

The bill has garnered support from multiple members of the council, including Council Speaker Adrienne Adams.

The idea of New York City mandating compost pickup is not new. In 2013, Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to mandate the recycling of organic waste during his mayoral campaign, but abandoned the idea due to budgetary concerns On the state level, Sen. Brad Hoylman and Sen. Julia Salazar introduced legislation this year that requires cities in New York with a population over one million to provide composting services to all residential buildings.

“New York needs to make landscapes, not landfills," Hoylman said in February. "Every year New York City’s homes produce one million tons of organic waste that could be reused in a sustainable way. But right now we’re letting all this waste go to waste, instead of composting it. It’s sitting in landfills, where the organic waste produces methane, one of the worst greenhouse gasses. Let’s bring composting to every home in NYC and bring NYC closer to its own internal goals of reducing waste by 90% by 2030.”

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