Putting Up a Stink

Glendale Residents Slam DSNY Organic Recycling

Glendale residents were up in arms with the Department of Sanitation’s (DSNY) pilot program to collect organic waste for composting, which was discussed at the Glendale Property Owners Association (GPOA) meeting last Thursday, June 5, at St. Pancras Pfeifer Hall.

Lisa Brunie-McDermott, a public information specialist for DSNY,was at last Thursday’s meeting to explain the program and answer questions from attendees.

GPOA President Brian Dooley, who said he has been composting upstate for years, claimed the program would save the city money on garbage transportation, which cost taxpayers $85 million in 2013.

McDermott explained that onethird of household waste is food scraps; the rest of the trash consists of recyclables and un-recyclable garbage.

Under the voluntary pilot program, participants are asked to separate their organic waste, such as coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable scraps and egg shells, into brown bins provided by the city. It is advised that the bins are lined with compostable bags and if not, that they are washed out regularly.

The organic waste is then transferred to one of several regional composting facilities based in Staten Island, Upstate, and one on Rikers Island, explained McDermott.

Residents had many concerns about the logistics of this program though.

To start, they feared they would be ticketed for improper separation, and storing the organic waste on the sidewalk that could be an open invitation for rats, raccoons, and roaches, especially those bordering cemeteries and parks. The Sanitation Department claims the cans are impervious to vermin or other creatures.

Others complained that the waste would be cooking on the sidewalk for over two weeks due to the holiday pick-up schedule.

Also, each bin has a bar code on it, which residents argued was for ticketing and tracking.

Finally, some residents didn’t want to worry about more to separate, believing it puts a crimp in the weekly routine of garbage and recycling day, adding one more smelly thing to do.

One woman who lives on 79th Street, who wished to remain anonymous, was outraged at the thought of having to clean out a small bin in her kitchen holding organic waste, let alone having the bin in her kitchen at all.

In addition, at 80 years old, she wasn’t willing to walk back and forth from her apartment to a smelly barrel of rotting food scraps to empty the bin.

Besides that, she wasn’t sure where to get decomposable bags to line her bins with and said if the city provided her with those bags, she may be more apt to separate the waste.

“I don’t see how it’s going to work,” said the 79th Street resident. “I’m not putting that in my kitchen.” She too is certain they will be ticketed at some point.

Despite heated debate, McDermott remained optimistic about the program.

As for attendees’ concerns, she reiterated throughout the night that “no fines are associated with the program,” as participation is voluntary.

She also made clear that pickups would not abide by the holiday or snow day calendar and would remain once a week.

As for the barcodes, they are not attached to an address, but rather to gauge participation.

McDermott urged residents to try it for a week, and if they didn’t like it to stop.

Earlier in the meeting, she said the program, when done successfully in New York, “will be changing the way he handle waste … changing the way the United States handles waste.”

GPOA Secretary Susan Petschauer expressed excitement for the program. She’s been composting upstate her whole life and said, “We need to do something with our garbage. I’ve been waiting a long time for this.”

The Community Board 5 office is getting involved and pressing local stores to carry the decomposable bags. Right now only three stores carry them: Natural Frontier, at 31-28 Ditmars Blvd in Astoria; Natural Market, at 72-56 Austin St. in Forest Hills; and Vitality and Health, at 46- 03 Broadway in Astoria.

According to a member of Board 5’s office, local supermarkets have been asked to carry the bags; local hardware stores, groceries, and pharmacies in the area will also be contacted.

Queens is the last borough to pick up the pilot program after organic waste collection bins were passed out to residents in Middle Village, Glendale and Maspeth.

Half the city schools, or 500-700 schools, are involved in the program as well as 100,000 houses and even sky-rise buildings in Manhattan are all involved in the pilot.

Other news

Project Manager Marguerite Manela spoke on behalf of the New York City Compost Project, a nonprofit organization created in 1993 by the DSNY gauged towards expanding interest in individual composting by providing educational opportunities for groups, individuals, and non-profits.

The organization offers workshops and classes on composting as well as a Master Composter Certificate Program and also runs a composting hotline. The organization is hosted by the Queens Botanical Garden and can be reached at 1-718-539-5296.

Alex Maureau, a liaison to Senator Joseph Addabbo, said the 50+ job fair was a great success, attracting more than 700 people and 25 vendors. Aregular job fair will be coming up sometime in September.

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The Glendale Property Owners Association will not meet in July and August; its next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 4, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Pancras Pfeifer Hall, located at the corner of Myrtle Avenue and 68th Street.

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