Save the Earth—& Money

City To Roll Out Home Composting Program

Seeking to not only trim its expenses but also make the city more environmentally friendly, the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) is about to embark on a home composting program that will start this spring in Staten Island and could make its way into Queens as early as this fall.

The DSNY’s deputy commissioner of recycling, Ron Gonen, told the Times Newsweekly in a phone interview on Tuesday, Jan. 15, that the initiative will involve the distribution of an outdoor bin and a smaller kitchen receptacle to single-family homes in order for regular collection of food waste.

Gonen explained that residents who receive the cans will be asked to deposit all organic food waste-such as fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry and fish-into the containers separate from traditional refuse. Sanitation crews will make the rounds and collect the food waste left in the outdoor bins placed on the curb once a week.

The city currently has such a food waste composting program underway at 68 public schools across the city, where cafeterias deposit food scraps separately from other forms of trash, the deputy commissioner noted. Food waste collected by the city will be ultimately transformed into mulch that will be used to help grow plants and trees at public venues across the five boroughs.

Gonen outlined the DSNY’s composting plan last Tuesday, Jan. 8, dur- ing a meeting of the Queens Borough Cabinet at Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens. He told the Times Newsweekly that the program aims to help reduce the city’s costs of exporting garbage, which amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

“It costs about $86 per every ton of garbage that we export out of our city,” Gonen said. Eliminating food garbage from the traditional trash system alone will not only make the city more eco-friendly, he noted, but also slash these shipping bills.

In fact, the deputy commissioner stated, the expense of providing single family homes with outdoor containers and indoor pails by which to collect the food waste will pay for it- self through the reduction of the trash tonnage shipped out by the Sanitation Department.

As noted, the household food waste collection program will begin this spring on Staten Island and is expected to arrive in Queens perhaps as early as this fall.

Gonen stated that the program would not commence borough-wide but would start in certain areas of Queens which have yet to be selected.

Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano told the Times Newsweekly that the composting program is one component of a number of initiatives which the Sanitation Department is scheduled to launch later this year to help bring about greater recycling of the city’s garbage.

“Part of it is to do the right thing environmentally, but at the same time, the city spends more than $300 million a year to export waste,” Giordano told this paper. “So the intent here is to reduce that cost.”

Reportedly, the Sanitation Department is also considering a plan to expand recycling to include all plastics, including rigid forms used for items such as bottle caps and detergent containers.

Regarding the composting program, the district manager expressed some concerns about it, particularly the storage of rotting meats and fish, which tend to give off very foul odors within a short period of time.

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