Making sense of composting in NYC with the de Blasio family

The de Blasio’s compost meat – but it’s only accepted through the pick-up program.

Composting is cool – the de Blasio kids do it! And they were the King and Queen of the Mermaid Parade!

In a video released by the Mayor’s Office and starring the city’s first family, an important issue is addressed: the relatively simple process of food composting. And while composting is easy and doesn’t add another task to your day, the rules of how to do it can be a little hard to follow.

What you can compost yourself at home (if you have a backyard bin) is more limited than what you can compost with the city’s new compost pick-up program.

In the video, Chaira de Blasio says the city’s curbside compost pick-up pilot program is “not limited to any type of food.”

“You can include meat, egg shells, the heads of strawberries, corn husks…”

But wait a minute – meat, in compost? The non-profit GrowNYC has been accepting compost at drop-off sites across the city for years, and meat is not accepted. What is Chiara talking about? We called the Department of Sanitation to find out.

As it turns out, the city’s compost operation accepts all food items: from meat to dairy.

“Our industrial scale operation allows the microbes to break down the meat,” explained Belinda Mager, Assistant Director of Public Information and Community Affairs at the Department of Sanitation. “The difference is about temperature, moisture and oxygen. At an industrial facility, we have staff who monitor these conditions regularly and adjust as needed. The key is constant monitoring and large scale tools.”

If you’re a backyard composter, or you bring your compost to one of the GrowNYC drop-off sites (usually at Farmer’s Markets), meat is prohibited.

Chiara says if you don’t have a curbside bin (most neighborhoods in the city are not part of the pilot program), you can bring your food items to a drop off site around the city. But that’s not totally true.

Here’s a helpful break down of what you can compost, for those who want to help save the planet:

Organics collection curbside pickup by the Sanitation Department (only available in selected neighborhoods):

Fruits and vegetables


Eggs and egg shells

Prepared foods


Dairy products



Small amounts of grease or oil

Soiled paper towels, napkins

Pizza boxes

Coffee grounds and filters

Brown paper bags

Yard waste

Tree trimmings

Dried flowers, house plants


GrowNYC drop-off sites or backyard composting:

Fruits and vegetables

Non-greasy grains

Coffee grounds and filters

Egg shells

Dried flowers, house plants

Soiled paper towels, napkins

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