The Afterlife of Food Scraps

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has made a commitment to achieve zero waste by 2030.

Since July 19th 2016, all of the city’s large scale private food providers and manufacturers have had to compost their food scraps. Residents and small businesses can separate their organic waste and bring it to community compost locations if they are lucky to have one in their neighborhood.

Some people compost even if they have to ride the subway.

Melissa Burtt lives in Jackson Heights but brings her organic waste to the Union Square Green Market compost stall.

The Lower East Side Ecology Center has run a stand at the Union Square Greenmarket for more than 20 years. Along with the compost bins, they sell compost manure for plants.

They also provide leaflets and advice for those interested in handling the composting process themselves. Ideally, every New York City resident would sort their waste at home and their food scraps would be collected by the city. Part of the 2030 zero waste target is a city-handled pick-up service for organic waste. 200 000 households spread across the five boroughs are currently participating in the DSNY Organics Collection pilot program. Schools, NPOs and city agencies can also request to join the curbside program.

It is a practice to consider for heavy gardeners as Tessa Huxley, who managed community gardens across the city for her whole career, recommends.

Most people bring their waste in the morning. At 10 am, half of the bins have already been filled. During the week, there are eight of them but on Saturday, the busiest market day, their number doubles to sixteen.

The Union Square Green Market encourages its users to shop responsibly and bring their own reusable bags. Reducing waste also means limiting its production.

The compost drop-off at the Union Square Green Market opens at 8:00 am. People bring their food scraps in sustainable and fashionable containers. Now, let’s feed the compost!
At 10 am it’s almost full.
One’s trash is another’s treats!

Thirty-one percent of New York City’s residents’ waste is made of food. The city intends to reduce this number through its NYC Compost Project. A part of the DSNY, this body provides training and information to people and organizations interested in producing compost. Listen to know how compost helps clear the city’s waste stream.

For more information on composting in New York, check out the following Twitter list:

This is a multimedia reporting piece gathered by

Rakshitha Arni Ravishankar
Rebecca Zissmann