Mandatory Composting Coming to New York City

A new bill passed by the New York City Council will require residents to separate their food waste from regular trash or face a fine.

New Yorkers will soon be required to compost all their food scraps, yard waste, and food-soiled paper under a sweeping new bill that passed the City Council on Thursday.

The residential mandate will roll out borough by borough, starting with Brooklyn and Queens this October, followed by the Bronx and Staten Island in March 2024, and Manhattan that October.

The bill is part of a so-called “Zero Waste” legislative package which will expand the pick-up of food-based waste citywide and require all residential buildings to participate.

The new law is part of New York City’s commitment to combating climate change by reducing the amount of organic waste the city sends to landfills, where it produces a particularly potent greenhouse gas called methane.

Instead of being dumped in a landfill, the bills mandate that organic waste be reused for environmentally friendly purposes. That includes composting, which is the process of recycling organic material to reuse it as fertilizer for soil and plants, as well as processing waste to generate alternative forms of electricity that emit less greenhouse gasses.

Over the last two years, the city has expanded its organic waste collection efforts, creating what Mayor Eric Adams has earlier called “the nation’s largest composting program.”

Another bill from Powers requires that officials set up at least two locations in each borough where New Yorkers can drop off electronics and other potentially recyclable items that aren’t typically collected through normal trash pickup.

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