The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY), the nation’s largest municipal waste organization, installed 16 “Smart Bins” to collect food scraps in Astoria in an effort to increase the city’s composting.
The program opened earlier this month, and so far 2,000 Astoria residents have expressed interest in participating. DSNY collects a total of 12,000 tons of trash and recycling each day, and a third of that waste could be composted. When that trash is sent to a landfill instead of being composted and turned into reusable soil, the materials emit methane which contributes to climate change.
All of the “Smart Bins” drop-off sites are located between 30th Avenue and Broadway.
Food scraps and food-soiled paper, like napkins and coffee filters, can all go into the bins. Residents who sign up simply tap their key card on the sensor at the top of each bin to unlock it. The bins are accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“Whether it’s the steady roll-out of curbside composting, the addition of more community-based food scrap drop-off sites, or these new Smart Bins, DSNY is committed to getting compostable material out of landfills,” Edward Grayson, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Sanitation, said. “We are excited to see how these new bins perform and urge everyone who lives or works near one to give them a try.”
DSNY also hopes to involve more community members in the curbside composting program across the city. Brown bins have been made available for neighborhoods that have enough sign-ups to participate.
During the pandemic, the city devoted resources primarily to health and safety needs, forcing tough budget cuts to DSNY. In 2020, the city budget slashed $106 million from DSNY. However, after the agency had to suspend the organics collection program for one year, they reintroduced it in 2021.
A full map of the locations and information on how to sign up for a “Smart Bin” can be found at smartcompost.nyc.