A pilot program to test out the curbside collection of organic waste was much more successful than officials anticipated, and now they plan to expand it.
The project – which included 30,000 households in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island, as well as over 100 schools and city buildings throughout the city – was much more successful than officials anticipated, and now the city is rolling out the curbside organics collection program to the rest of the Big Apple in phases. This spring, an additional 70,000 households in Queens and Brooklyn received new brown carts where residents can toss in fruit and vegetable trimmings, meat and bones, napkins, and even pizza boxes.
New York City sends about 3.2 million tons of waste to landfills each year, the New York Times reported, and spends around $350 million annually to haul trash as far away as South Carolina, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. By expanding the composting collection program citywide, officials hope to make a dent in that staggering statistic, estimating that organics make up approximately 30 percent of the city’s waste stream.
Composting organic material from the nation’s largest city clearly has environmental and economic benefits, but will the program be successful? Despite the unexpected popularity of the pilot program, New Yorkers have been slow to increase their recycling efforts: Bloomberg Businessweek reported that recycling participation has stalled at 43 percent or less over the past several years, even with a city ordinance mandating recycling. Last year, New York issued 51,000 violations to the city’s recycling program for paper, plastics, glass and metals, according to Bloomberg. While New York City’s organics program is currently a voluntary initiative, it may become mandatory in the next few years.