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Queens officials celebrate return of composting services as part of city’s COVID-19 recovery plan

The city will resume composting services that were curtailed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (QNS/File)

Queens elected officials are welcoming the return of several composting programs that were cut from the city budget during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis caused by the shutdown.

The Earth Day announcement at City Hall included the resumption of the curbside composting service provided by the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and the expansion of community composting, reuse and hazardous waste disposal initiatives.

“With climate change already taking a toll on our city in terms of severe storms like Sandy, it is imperative that we leave no stone unturned in our fight to make New York City the greenest city in America — ensuring the long-term sustainability of our communities in the process,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “The restoration and expansion of these programs are part of a greater puzzle we must solve to secure the safety of our families, and Queens is grateful to all involved for the commitment.”

Queens residents who previously had curbside composting service can sign up in August with collection set to begin in October. Neighborhood drop-off sites will double to nearly 200 locations across the city while organic collections return to nearly 1,000 schools.

In addition to composting, several sustainability programs were expanded, including the SAFE Disposal Events — which collect solvents, automotive, flammables, electronics and other regulated waste — from two events per borough each year, to nearly 60 per year. The six-fold expansion means fewer dangerous chemicals and products on city streets, in waterways and in landfills.

“The restoration of curbside composting and the expansion of the SAFE disposal events is a welcome development as we celebrate Earth Day,” Councilman I. Daneek Miller said. “Many local residents have been eagerly looking forward to composting services resuming, and we are grateful that service will be restored ahead of schedule. We are also looking forward to holding a SAFE disposal site in our district again this summer and greatly appreciate the partnership with DSNY.”

In making the announcement, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city’s commitment to sustainability would be year-round and “advance the cause of environmental justice” in all five boroughs.

“I congratulate Mayor de Blasio and his terrific environmental and sustainability team for restarting the best-in-the-nation curbside composting program and for the major expansions being made to the community composting, reuse and hazardous waste disposal programs,” Councilman James Gennaro said. “For this mayor to make this kind of bold commitment as the city is still emerging from COVID really speaks to the remarkable commitment to environmental leadership that Bill de Blasio has always shown throughout his career.”

DSNY Commissioner Edward Grayson, a Middle Village resident, said the Earth Day announcement represents progress as the city gets back to pursuing its goal of zero waste.

“When people think about the work of the Department of Sanitation, all too often they think it’s our job just to make trash disappear. But we are a sustainability organization — one of the largest municipal resource recovery operations in the world,” Grayson said. “We are providing an example and an opportunity for all the communities and all the residents of New York City to make good choices, to make the right choices, to make the choices for our future. And these announcements today, these service restorations today, and this expansion of some of our community programs today is very exciting and completely the breath of fresh air we need as we all recover.”

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