A rind is a terrible thing to waste! Williamsburgers demand city composting service

The Brooklyn Paper
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The city is squandering Williamsburg’s vast reserves of discarded table scraps and should bring its curbside compost collection service to the neighborhood soon so it can capitalize on the abundant supply of worm food instead of paying to dump it in landfill, say residents who have backed an online appeal demanding access to the program.

“They’re throwing away good resources,” said Summer Rayne Oakes, a 10-year Williamsburg resident who launched the petition a month ago and has since racked up 137 digital autographs. “The city spends so much money having to deal with our trash, and I don’t know how many billions of dollars we waste a year in throwing out compost.”

The sanitation department has been slowly rolling out its fledgling organic collection program throughout Brooklyn since 2013. It has since brought its brown bins to houses in Greenpoint, Bay Ridge, Park Slope, Sunset Park, and Windsor Terrace, and will expand into Red Hook, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens this month.

The eco-conscious Williamsburgers say it should be their turn next, and they may get their wish — Oakes sent her petition to Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-Williamsburg) and Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Greenpoint) when it hit 100 names, and the pols have organized a meeting between signatories and the department of sanitation for later this month.

One signatory, who moved to the nabe from San Francisco a few months ago, says he was shocked to learn that the famously bohemian enclave did not have a door-to-door compost-collecting service.

“We never thought of ourselves as moving to a less progressive place or less thoughtful place,” said Kayvon Tehranian, one of four locals who will attend the scrap summit with Oakes. “It felt a little that way when we experienced not being able to do anything with our compost.”

Oakes is confident the program will be a hit in her ’hood — many locals already walk their waste to McCarren Park, where volunteer group the North Brooklyn Compost Project maintains a compost pile, she said.

“So many of the people I know are doing it already and are hoofing it to McCarren Park,” she said.

But not everyone in the area has such a rosy view of the brown bins. Greenpointers raised a stink in June the city rolled them out to their streets and putrid stenches began wafting out thanks to composting rookies leaving old meat and dairy to fester in the receptacle between pickups.

But Williamsburgers can learn better bin practices, said Oakes, and besides — the same scrap would stink just as badly in a bin of a different color.

“The same stuff would be going in the garbage,” she said. “You’re throwing it away anyway. But people don’t complain about the garbage smell because they’re so accustomed to it.”

A rep for Reynoso, who has been a staunch advocate for program as chair of the city’s sanitation committee, said their office is keeping its fingers crossed for the sanitation department’s decision.

“We are patiently waiting for our turn and hoping it comes soon,” said legislative director Lacey Tauber.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at or by calling (718) 260–8312.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

John from Williamsburg says:
Garbage disposals are legal and cheap. The results all ends up in the same place and it doesn't smell like death and cause swarms of bugs. Do your research hippies.
Oct. 1, 2015, 9:23 am
Tyler from pps says:
John -- you shouldn't be so confident with your ignorance. While garbage disposals are convenient, you should talk to the folks operating the sewage treatment plants what they think about organic waste being flushed down kitchen sinks! (hint: It's not good.)

And "it all goes to the same place" is extra ignorant. I mean, it's soooo obviously not the case.

In short, do your research dippie.
Oct. 1, 2015, 10:15 am
John from Williamsburg says:
The sewage treatment plan you are referring to would be the newton creek plant. The same plant that would receive the compost bins. The compost is converted to fuel and the folks operating the plant want more since they are nowhere near capacity. It doesn't matter if you flush it or compost least in Brooklyn...they really do go to the same place.

There are two concerns. Plastic waste and grease. Don't flush grease or wet wipes.

There are numerous articles on the plant and modern sewage systems and a number of recent studies done on "food waste disposals" that you could read up on if you are so inclined. Or you could continue to call people ignorant...
Oct. 1, 2015, 11:42 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Might I make a suggestion here? Perhaps we should consider "eating the food". There's at least one person that does this-his name is John Wasserman. Why, when I was just a young boy, my friends and I formed a group called "the Clean Plate Club". Pardon the suggestion.
John Wasserman
Oct. 1, 2015, 4:26 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
John, once again, the voice of reason.
Oct. 2, 2015, 8:45 pm
composting is an incomplete solution from the boros says:
Food waste should be further seperated from yard waste(compost) as it has the highest fuel value for anaerobic digesting which in turn makes green replenishable energy.

Sending anything to any waste treatment plant, Newtown Creek included, is just that, a waste. The only energy those places make, is energy to process more waste that all goes to our land fills.

In an urban concrete and asphalt covered environment, there is no way to utilize all the compost that will be produced from food waste thus is just being deemed waste again.

Waste to energy is the way of the future and anaerobic digestion is the means of doing it. City need to be proactive and stop putting bandaids on our both our waste and energy problems. It's sad the New York is the least innovative place when it comes to both these issues to which we are the biggest consumers & producers of.

Time to turn this age old problem into a solution.
Oct. 3, 2015, 7:23 am
Matt from Greenpoint says:
Ha, Williamsburg is jealous of our fly farms and the delicious maggot juice that they produce.
Even if they do get them their juice will never be as good as ours because now only Greenpoint has true hipster dung.
Oct. 3, 2015, 9:58 am
Williamsburg Native from Williamsburg says:
I wish all these "hipsters" would go back where they came from. Yep, just jump back on that bus, go back home and do your composting there.
Oct. 5, 2015, 5:24 am
Jubilee Soil from Ohio says:
Traditional aerobic composting can be problematic at an industrial scale -- many have been shut down because of pests and odor.
We have a business in Ohio where we process post-consumer food waste using fermentation in sealed barrels (called "bokashi") and we do it at an industrial scale. No odor, no pests, and the fermented material is an outstanding amendment that creates rich topsoil.
By the end of 2016 we will have diverted one million pounds of food waste from local landfills in Southeast Ohio.
Here is our website. If anyone is interested in how we are doing this, feel free to contact me.
Oct. 13, 2015, 10:59 am

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