It's been a big summer for New York City garbage. Fifth Avenue got fancy new garbage cans, food establishments now have to bin their trash, and single-use takeout utensils are on their way out. Now, composting is becoming more mainstream, particularly in the outer boroughs.
The Zero Waste Act, passed by city council in June 2023, is designed to make New York a more sustainable, greener city, and with it comes mandatory composting and separating of organic waste for all households in businesses by next year.
To start, the city’s currently optional curbside composting program is expanding across all of Kings County, so all Brooklynites can compost at home if they choose to do so. Pickup dates start on Monday, October 2, with brown bin drop-off already in progress.
Free brown bins (with a tight lid, to prevent icky intruders) can be ordered online, and delivered outside residential buildings to collect compost. Each neighborhood will have various pickup times and days, so building owners can bring the bins to the curb to be emptied by sanitation workers.
What can you compost? Basically, all food waste is appropriate for the brown bins. Food scraps including meat, bones, dairy, prepared foods, produce, flowers, packaged snacks and more can go in the compost bin. Greasy uncoated paper plates and pizza boxes are acceptable, too. At home, compostables can be stored in the freezer to prevent scents from building up, or in a special compost bucket or container to keep near your regular trash and recycling.
Composting leaf and yard waste is mandatory, and twigs or branches can be bundled with twine and set next to the bins or with paper leaf bags on the curb.
Curbside composting will expand citywide, with a full rollout in the Bronx and Staten Island on March 25, 2024 and in Manhattan on October 7, 2024. The service has been available to Queens residents since March 2023.