Oh, scrappy day! City brings composting pick-up to Greenpoint

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Everything moldy is new again.

The city is expanding its fledgling food-waste recycling program to Greenpoint next month, offering curbside collection of table scraps and yard trimmings, which it will transform into plant food and, eventually, natural gas, says New York’s trash czar.

“We hope our organics collection program will not only reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills but also create compost, a natural fertilizer,” said sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia.

The trash commission will ship brown bins to Greenpointers in single family houses and apartment buildings with nine or fewer units between June 11 and 15, and will start picking up the contents weekly from June 15. (People who live in larger apartment blocks will have to keep schlepping their scraps to farmers markets for now).

Environmentally conscious residents say the sidewalk service will make it easier being green.

“I am all for it,” said Greenpoint resident and committed composter Ellen Oettinger. “We have been hauling our frozen food scraps to McCarren on Saturday mornings for four years now.”

The city also plans to turn Greenpoint’s old banana peels and pizza crusts into an energy source at the neighborhood’s sewage treatment plant on Newtown Creek.

The plant will pump the watered-down waste into its so-called digester eggs, and capture the potent methane that rises from the slurry.">

Utility giant National Grid will then re-brand that fart gas as natural gas, and sell it back to householders.

The city will likely need more space for additional digester eggs in the future as the project grows, said officials.

The pilot composting program has already been up and running in Windsor Terrace since 2013, and Greenwood Heights, Sunset Park, Park Slope, Gowanus, and Bay Ridge since 2014.

The program is voluntary for now, but officials say participation might become mandatory in the future after it rolls the scheme out city-wide.

As of late last year, at least a quarter of eligible homes in the participating Brooklyn neighborhoods were diligently wheeling their brown bins to the curb.

Park Slopers and Gowanusites are the most enthusiastic composters, with more than 45 percent of bin-owning homes in those ’hoods putting them to use, according to city data.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: More data added.
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Reasonable discourse

Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Ah, Rats!
May 22, 2015, 6:57 am
Vinny Polack from Greenpoint says:
They should do separate electronics collection instead of this nonsense.
May 22, 2015, 1:39 pm
Jimmy from Faltbush says:
Vinny -- That's a ridiculous statement. This is not nonsense, it's called appropriate waste management. Food scraps shouldn't be buried in a landfill to anaerobically decay over 100 years when they could be made into useful compost.

And what do you propose for this "separate electronics collection"? Trucks cruising around empty looking for the small number of electronics discarded each week? Most neighborhoods (or nearby neighborhoods) have periodic electronics recycling events, usually coupled with the green markets, etc. Far more efficient model.
May 22, 2015, 2:03 pm
stanchaz from GreenPernt says:
Can we compost the yuppie trustafarians and weekend warrior bar-hopping invaders too?
Can't wait for the odorama scents of summer compost, waiting days and days for pickup, as the rats have a field day... something useful and bring back electronic item collections for smaller buildings, idiots! Just as they do for larger appliances etc.
May 22, 2015, 3:01 pm
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
stanchaz.... How are the rat climbing into these containers with a latch? And how are food scraps in this container magically smellier than food scrap put into a difference container (i.e., regular trash)???

The lack of rational thought from folks like you is why we can't have nice things.
May 22, 2015, 3:10 pm
Vinny Polack from Greenpoint says:
OK, Jimmy, you convinced me.

According to the DEP, the Newtown Creek digester eggs work by heat-accelerated anaerobic digestion. It is obviously far more efficient to burn fossil fuels to speed up anaerobic digestion with heat, the same process as in a landfill but artificially sped up by burning fossil fuels.. to make more fossil fuels!

Food only takes 15 years to naturally decay in a landfill. Slide 16 here:

You've obviously never seen the holes that rodents chew into closed plastic garbage bins when they smell rotting food inside. Oh those irrational rats and irrational New Yorkers, they are the reason why can't we have nice things!
May 22, 2015, 6:41 pm
Jimmy from Fatbush says:
Cuz, I guess, food scraps just magically disappear if there's no compost collection, right? The rat don't want the scraps stored in other containers, just the small brown ones. smh.
May 22, 2015, 8:35 pm
Matt from Greenpoint says:
And when they get knocked over?
The smell, rats?
Homeless people eating out of them?
Should be interesting.
May 23, 2015, 6:36 am
Matt from Greenpoint says:
Some hipsters will no doubt start a food club based rummaged compost.

In the country one generally covers compost with dirt and straw and it can aerate, not fester in a plastic bin.
May 23, 2015, 6:41 am
John from Greenpoint says:
Hooray! We've seen these bins in other hoods, and we were jealous. We love composting and think it's a cool step in the right direction! NYC is in need of a way to get rid of our (abundant) trash, and this option is good for the environment and the city, too!
May 23, 2015, 7:46 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Maybe we can fuel the garbage trucks with the gas this produces since we are now using fuel to drive around garbage.
May 23, 2015, 8:25 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Drink tap water and stop buying it if you are really concerned with the environment.
May 23, 2015, 9:31 am
Matt from Greenpoint says:
I hope they place it right next to the outdoor seating at the local see and be seen, where the baby strollers usually reside.
May 24, 2015, 5:36 pm
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
These comments are soooo ridiculous. Compost bins will be the cause of all that is bad and foot waste in garbage bags is equivalent to a bank vault full of rainbows.
May 24, 2015, 10:11 pm
ty from pps says:
if we end up with too much compost, it turns into soil, and what will we do with all that dirt. dirt is just pollution. my mother always said don't bring dirt into the house. if we have too much dirt, we might have to send it to another country and that would start a war, and those countries would go to war over foreign soil.
May 25, 2015, 2:50 pm
Matt from Greenpoint says:
If you already have a container in your house or apt. for glass and plastic recycle and a pile of boxes etc. for paper recycle. Then what you really need is a container for compost, you know the stuff that rots in a day.
Oh, I almost forgot, hipsters just put it on the street and don't even realize a person sorts it out for them.
In any case, the best compost container is called the toilet, mind the bones.
Pretty soon they can just send us a paycheck for working for the sanitation department.
May 25, 2015, 7:51 pm
Matt from Greenpoint says:
I mean, who in NYC does not have space for a recycling and composting area in their space?
May 25, 2015, 7:52 pm
Matt from Greenpoint says:
Then again, just eat every meal out and no worries, mate!
May 25, 2015, 7:53 pm
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
What are you winging about, Matt? The container goes outside where the garbage cans are. Do you keep the curbside garbage can in your apartment?

Everyone that I know who collects food for composting (they collect it weekly at most farmer's markets in the city) just keeps a small bag of scraps in the freezer. For a big family, there might not be room in the freezer... thus, the *locking* food waster containers that are kept outside.

This is not a crazy thing. It's actually a very reasonable thing for a city and its inhabitants to do. Oh, right, but it's soooo [insert irrational thought that has nothing to do with evidence or reality].
May 26, 2015, 1:49 pm
Vinny Polack from Greenpoint says:
Matt is talking about the $150 sanitation recycling fines from the city because the majority of tenants in this city don't separate plastics or cardboard from their garbage, so the super or owner has to do it for them on collection day. You've obviously never had to dig through rotting food and pet droppings to get the plastics out of multiple apartments worth of garbage to avoid a sanitation fine or you wouldn't be so enthusiastic about the fines that will inevitably follow this compost plan. If you want to reduce waste, don't generate so much waste in the first place. It is irrational to impose your own ideologies on other people.
May 26, 2015, 8:53 pm
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
What Vinny?!

(1) Diverting recoverable materials for use rather than putting them in a magical hole somewhere is not "ideology" it's proper stewardship of the Earth. And a city of 8 million discards a lot of this material (recyclables, compostables, and otherwise).

(2) Yeah. Sanitation fines buildings. And the people not separating their waste should be punished for not complying with fairly simple garbage separation requirements. If a building's management wants to sort through their lazy tenants' garbage, so be it. That's not a real problem, that's a problem created by the management/co-op boards/condo associations/etc. The last big building I lived in had two full-time staff... neither of them ever sorted through the garbage. The residents put their trash in the right spots or were fined. Done.
May 26, 2015, 10:01 pm
Vinny Polack from Greenpoint says:
There is no way to trace trash in small apartment buildings. You can't just fine individual apartments nor is that allowed by law.. How would you prove it was theirs? There is no recourse in the law except putting up signs. Most people do not separate their plastics. You have to sort through the rot to get the plastics out. Straight from the Rent Guidelines Board::

Obviously our experiences living in the city are different. In my opinion, separating compost is penny wise, pound foolish. Plastic is worth the trouble of sorting because it is not biodegradable. Segregating rotting food from landfill trash is in my opinion not worth the overhead cost.
May 27, 2015, 11:33 am

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