Some people have brownstone envy. I have brown-bin envy.
I often find myself strolling along some Brooklyn street that is just peppered with those increasingly familiar DSNY brown bins. And, as much as I love the ritual of dropping off my food scraps at the farmers market, I really (really!) want one.
Those of you in certain Brooklyn Community Boards may have noticed an influx of those bins recently. The bins are for the city’s voluntary organics collection program, and they’ve been arriving throughout June in CB7 (Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace), CB11 (Bath Beach, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Mapleton), and CB12 (Boro Park, Kensington, Midwood, Ocean Parkway). Collection starts the week of July 3—next week!
If you’re unfamiliar with the program, here’s a quick rundown.
Participants receive that brown, hard-sided outdoor collection bin to deposit food scraps and yard waste for weekly pickup. They also receive a smaller kitchen container to keep scraps in before transferring outside. The NYC Department of Sanitation then collects food scraps, food-soiled paper, and yard waste from residents, all of which is turned into compost (a natural soil amendment) or renewable energy.
There’s an important fact that can’t be emphasized enough:this program is voluntary
. That means there are no fines associated with noncompliance but also that DSNY depends on the participation of residents to keep the program growing. They collected 23,000 tons of organic waste last year and curbside collection currently reaches 1.6 million residents. But the ultimate goal is zero waste going to landfills by 2030. And that will take even more participation.
Belinda Mager of DSNY says, “We hope that residents will give it a try. Organic material makes up about a third of our trash. Once you separate your organics, and metal/glass/plastic/paper, you’ll find you don’t have much trash left. Additionally, participation may help with critters and pests as food waste is set out in hard-sided latching bins, instead of more easily accessible plastic bags.”
And what if you or your building already has your own compost bin out back? Or you want to continue bringing your compost to the farmers market or other community drop-off site? You can still participate in the collections program. Those sites don’t generally accept meat or dairy in compost you drop off, but curbside collection does, along with food-soiled paper product and yard waste. So do both and get full organics coverage!
In participating districts, if your building has one to nine units, you’re automatically enrolled in the program and just have to participate. Buildings with 10 or more units, and residents living along commercial strips, must apply to the NYC Organics program to receive your free bins.
By setting out organics separately, you’re turning waste into a resource and making our neighborhoods cleaner. Plus, organic material decomposing in a landfill releases greenhouse gases, and that’s not great for the environment.
So if you’re in one of the lucky Community Boards getting organics collection pickup beginning next week, take advantage of it! There are lots of reasons to participate. If nothing else, do it for the “bin-vious” among us.
If you’d like more info on NYC Organics, visit nyc.gov/organics.