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Composters welcome city's five-borough pilot

Composting site in Sunnyside, Queens. (Melissa Cipollone)

Composting site in Sunnyside, Queens. (Melissa Cipollone) Photo Credit: Composting site in Sunnyside, Queens. (Melissa Cipollone)

The Bloomberg administration Monday was talking trash — the food kind, that is. The city will expand a pilot program to increase composting of food waste, which the mayor in this year’s State of the City address called the “final recycling frontier.”

Bloomberg said the success of composting initiatives in Staten Island homes and about 90 public schools led his administration to grow the food recycling program to the other boroughs this fall. The city wants to take 30% of the city’s waste out of landfills by 2017.

“Evidence is very encouraging from the first pilot,” Bloomberg told reporters. “We're going to try it with a bigger pilot and see.”

Practitioners of composting, which has been popular among green thumbs and environmentalists, welcomed the news.

“To see the city step up and say this has to happen and it’s a positive thing is really exciting,” said Louise Bruce, program manager of NYC Compost Project, who also was a founder of Compost for Brooklyn. “This has very much been led by New Yorkers on the grass roots, local level.”

Siena Chrisman, a 38-year-old nonprofit program manager who uses compost in her Park Slope community garden plot, said she would want mandatory composting to be paired with an education campaign about how to separate food waste from trash.
“It would be amazing as a city to be able to divert a lot of material from the waste stream and creating this really incredible asset,” she said.

The ultimate goal is to make food recycling mandatory citywide in a few years, The New York Times reported Monday.

“We think this is a major step to what we really want to get to, which is, you want to be sending little or nothing to landfills,” Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway told reporters, referring to the expansion of the pilot.

Food scraps make up about 35% of the city’s total waste, which weighs in at 1.2 million tons. Composting breaks down food waste into fertilizer for gardening, trees and energy.

On Staten Island, 3,500 homes took up composting, with a participation rate of 43% for the borough. Some 90 public schools in Manhattan and Brooklyn participated as well. The expanded program aims to reach 100,000 residences across the city and will be instituted in 600 schools, Holloway said.


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