Compost Resources

DSNY Food Scrap Pick-Up

Welcome to Composting!

 

You have joined a community of people who are helping our city, while reducing your smelly garbage at home – a real win-win situation!  Food scraps that are diverted from landfill, where they would produce methane gas, are turned into valuable resources – compost (for soil) and fertilizer (for plants) – and used locally for urban farming and gardening.
We have assembled a few tips that may help as you get started:
 
Gathering food scraps
  • A large yogurt (or similar size, light weight) container with a lid, works as well as a commercially available compost pail. (Or try Tupperware or an ice bucket.)
  • GrowNYC provides free countertop containers on request.
  • Keep your container near your sink, or area where you chop or prepare food.
  • Lining the container is optional.
  • Placing a bit of newspaper at the bottom of the pail helps to absorb moisture.
  
Storing food scraps
  • To reduce # of trips to the communal brown bin, you can store food scraps in fridge or freezer, depending on where you have space.
  • Plastic bags (ok), compostable bags (better) or paper bags (best) can be used for storage. All can be dumped in the brown bin, but only paper is turned into compost. (Plastic and compostable plastic bags are currently removed and sent to landfill.)
 
Using the communal organics (brown) bin
  • Familiarize yourself with the lock – it’s only a little challenging – and it does work even with the plastic liner bag (if there is one), despite your first impression!
  • Once it’s full, start a new bin. Don’t overfill!
  
What goes in the brown bin
  • Food scraps including grains, nut and egg shells and pits. Meat, bones and dairy products are all accepted here, but not at greenmarket bins.
  • Food soiled/oil stained paper, cardboard, paper towels, paper plates. (Not paper cups or anything coated or lined to repel liquids, and not clean paper products that can be recycled.)
  • Parchment paper but not waxed paper.
  • Plant and yard cuttings, dried flowers and potting soil.
  • Cork, but only if it is real cork and untreated.
  • Wood scraps (e.g. popsicle or chopsticks) if wood is untreated.
  • Coffee filters and tea bags, except the mesh type, which is made of plastic.
 For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/organics and https://www.grownyc.org/compost
Why your building should join the NYC Organics Collection Program
 
You’ve heard how it’s good for the planet, but here’s what’s actually in it for you…
 Improved Trash Management
  • When organics are separated from other trash, trash volume is reduced by 34% on average, and it no longer smells.
  • This reduces the amount of trash hauled by the building staff. Residents who participate are responsible for transferring their organic waste to the organics bin in the trash area/basement.  Building staff is responsible only for rolling the bins to the street (and back) on collection days and replacing the liners after collection.
 
Better Protection From Vermin
  • Organics bins are more vermin proof than regular trash bins, because they lock shut, keeping odors and pests at bay. Only creatures with opposable thumbs can open them.
  • Organics bins are more vermin proof than plastic bags on the street, where your trash awaits pick-up.
 
No Downside, Only Upside
Once You Join
  • Participation is free. The Dept of Sanitation provides the organics collection bin.
  • Participation by residents is completely optional. No one is required to ‘compost’, and there is no penalty for low building participation. So why not enable those who want to participate?
  • Participation rates tend to grow over time because participants like it and spread the word. (It improves trash management at home, too!)
  • Participation signals a sustainability minded building to potential buyers.
  • Food scraps are turned into compost, which is used at Street Tree Care and Giveback events or sold to businesses that turn it into fertilizer. Composting saves NYC the cost of sending it to landfill.
If you are ready to get started, your building manager, superintendent, or board  chairperson can sign up at https://dsny.force.com/curbsidecomposting/s/
or by calling 311.  Give it a try!
 
What you always wanted to know about food scrap composting but didn’t know you should ask
 
“ I love it! The hallways are cleaner. We started with one bin and now are up to four” J.D. Super, West End Avenue
 
“It was easy to get the hang of it-easier than I thought, because it makes so much sense.” Resident, 102nd and Riverside.
 
My trash has gone way down in volume and it rarely smells!” Resident, 102nd and Riverside
 
“Why wouldn’t I love it? The halls are cleaner and less smelly and rodents can’t get at it.” V.P. Super, West 104th Street.
 
You may have noticed that jaunty brown food scrap bins are popping back up in our neighborhood. Here are some FAQ’s to help you understand what this effort is all about.
 
Why does separating food scraps from other garbage matter?
When food scraps go into regular garbage bins they end up in landfills where, because they are shut off from oxygen they produce methane, a greenhouse gas 30x worse than CO2. Food scraps left on their own break down into CO2 and humus which can be put to good use in gardens and farms.
 
What can I put in a brown bin?
Basically any formerly living thing including fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and chicken including bones and garden debris.
The paper bag or plastic bag you save up your scraps in can also be tossed in the bin. (Now the Department of Sanitation can separate out the plastic bag.)
Please note: if you have been bringing your food scraps to local farmers markets or plan to, they do not accept meat, fish and chicken scraps.
 
What  can I use to collect my food scraps?
Countertop bins are available locally and online as well. Compost scraps can also be kept in a paper or plastic  bag in the freezer until pick up day.
 
What is the schedule for pick up of the bins?
In our neighborhood it is Wednesday. Bins go out in late afternoon for evening pickup.

 

 

 

How can I get my building to participate in the program?
Approach your co-op board, building management or landlord to get on board. Some typical questions they may raise include: where will we put the bins in the building, will they make a mess and create more work for building staff, will they attract vermin? Each building will need to problem solve their own unique responses to these issues.  A good selling point is that participation by residents is completely optional and voluntary, but those who want to participate should be given the opportunity. The building staff is only responsible for putting the containers on the street on collection days, not for filling the containers or collecting compost.
Contact itseasybeinggreen.uws@gmail.com for a write up you can give to your board.
 
What can I do if my building refuses to get on board?
Some buildings that have a brown bin are happy to share it with people on their street. As a courtesy, ask the building if they are willing to share their bin. Other options are farmer’s markets.  Columbia University collection at 116th is from 8-1 on Sunday .Another option is 97th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam from 8-12 on Fridays. (Remember, no meat scraps for the Green market!)
 
What costs are involved in participating? Who can I call at DSNY?
NONE! This is a free program offered by NYC Dept of Sanitation. Call or write Allie Gumas, Outreach Coordinator at DSNY if you have any questions a gumas@dsny.nyc.gov  212 437-4802.
 
Sure, separating organic matter from your regular garbage may require a personal mindset shift and change of habit. If you think it’s going to be too cumbersome, try it for a few weeks before you make up your mind. Think of it as an effort that contributes to the common good which sets a great example for the young people in your life and makes a small difference to mitigate climate change. Try it! You may  like it.
 
Feedback or questions welcome at itseasybeinggreen.uws@gmail.com