BY KATHRYN GARCIA
New York City will soon be home to the largest organics collection program in the nation, thanks in part to the expansion of our innovative program into northeastern Queens. On December 5th, when collection service begins in Queens Community Board 11, curbside organics collection will be available to more than 960,000 residents citywide. That is quite an achievement.
In preparation, our outreach teams have been delivering brown organics bins, kitchen containers, and welcome kits to residents in Auburndale, Bayside, Douglaston, Hollis Hills, Little Neck, and Oakland Gardens. Buildings with nine or fewer units will be automatically enrolled in the program. Large apartment buildings, with ten or more units, residents living on commercial strips, non-profit organizations, institutions, and gardens are invited to sign up for organics collection service on our website at nyc.gov/apt-recycling or by calling 311.
Queens residents can help by making sure their organics—food scraps, yard trimmings, and food-soiled paper—are used to nourish our soil and power our city, instead of being sent to landfills.
In case you didn’t know, a third of the 10,500 tons of trash that the DSNY collects in comprised of organics. We started collecting organics in 2013 and our goal is to ultimately serve all New Yorkers by the end of 2018 with either curbside service or convenient neighborhood drop-off sites.
As the men and women of DSNY—New York’s Strongest—work tirelessly to bring you this service, we need your help, too. By separating food scraps and yard trimmings from trash, every New Yorker will play a critical role in keeping our city healthy, safe, and clean.
Your participation will help us make compost, and one day soon, an alternative source of energy. Compost is used to maintain healthy soil and has wide-ranging positive effects on the environment and public health. Soil health impacts food production, exposure to toxins, air and water quality, ecological diversity, and more. I recently visited one of the sites that composts our City’s organics, McEnroe Organic Farm in the Hudson Valley, to see how a tomato scrap from Queens is turned into compost and ultimately supports the growth of new tomatoes. We captured this process on video so that all New Yorkers can see their put to good use. I also encourage you to join our staff in Bayside in the coming weeks as they care for street trees with DSNY-made compost.
Ultimately, by joining our organics collection program, you will help New York City achieve zero waste to landfills by 2030.
Kathryn Garcia is Commissioner of the NYC Department of Sanitation. To learn more about curbside organics collection, food scrap drop-off sites, and home composting visit nyc.gov/organics or call 311.