Ron Gonen, deputy commissioner for Recycling and Sustainability for the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), attended the Community Board 5 meeting last week to promote the city’s new initiative targeting organic material.
“We can either turn it into compost, which is a rich fertilizer that the city then sells, or we can turn it into clean natural gas,” Gonen said.
The city currently collects food waste from nearly 360 schools, expanding to an expected 400 schools by September, as well as curbside collection in Staten Island, Brooklyn and the Bronx. This spring, Queens will be the next borough added to the program.
Primarily single-family homes, but some multi-family homes, will receive either a 13-gallon or 21-gallon compost containers for food waste, leaf and yard waste, and soiled paper.
“We now take all your metal, all your paper, all your plastic; we’re now going to take all your food waste,” said Gonen. “We have to spend a lot of money to send stuff to the landfill, and if you participate properly in our recycling program, you literally have very little refuse that you need to put out.”
In addition to banning Styrofoam by the end of the year, the city is also making composting mandatory for all large hotels, stadiums and universities by 2015, Gonen added.
CB5 chair Vincent Arcuri said he hopes the new compost initiative would also help reduce some of the garbage overflow in the neighborhood.
“One of the problems we have with the tenants not recycling is our litter bags are overflowing on the street corners,” Arcuri said. “That’s something we need to consider.”