Nonprofit organizations partner with Councilmember Julie Menin to bring more composting to Manhattan’s East Side

A steady stream of ecology-minded New Yorkers bring their kitchen scraps for composting.
(Photo by Tequila Minsky)

The office of Councilmember Julie Menin has partnered with nonprofit organizations GrowNYC and Asphalt to call on the city to create a composting site on the East Side of Manhattan.

Residents of the East Side have made the issue of the lack of food scrap drop-off sites in the district to Menin’s office on a weekly basis. Though there were three food scrap drop-off sites within the district prior to the pandemic, it has been reduced to one site operated by GrowNYC, located at 96th Street and Lexington Avenue, that operates on Fridays from 7:30 to 12:30 p.m.

With help from GrowNYC and Menin’s office, Asphalt Green has now committed to opening a composting site, allowing composting to take place at two different days a week, at two different locations, near public transportation.

“We need more composting sites now more than ever. The city’s proposed cuts to curbside composting services are disappointing, but organizations such as GrowNYC are providing ways for New Yorkers to continue helping the environment and fighting climate change. Having Asphalt Green step in to provide this location helps our community to keep our city cleaner,” said Menin.

“Asphalt Green is proud to partner with GrowNYC and New York City Council Member Julie Menin to host a Food Scrap Drop-off site on our Upper East Side campus. We are excited to become a space where our community can come together, not only to play, but also to compost,” said David Ludwig, Senior Director, Asphalt Green Community Programs.

Starting Monday, March 13, GrowNYC will administer the site at Asphalt Green and provide large 64 gallon bins to collect the food scraps on Sundays from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the southeast corner of 91st Street and York Avenue, located near the slope into the soccer field of Asphalt Green.

Compost consists of organic material, such as yard waste, grass clippings, houseplants, fruit and vegetables, coffee grinds, paper, hair, cotton rags, and fireplace ashes. Acceptable materials include fruit & vegetable scraps, non-greasy food scraps (rice, pasta, bread, grains, cereal), coffee grounds & filters, tea bags, eggshells & nuts, cut flowers & houseplants, soiled brown paper products, potting soil. The site cannot accept meat, fish, bones, dairy, fat, oil, greasy food scraps, animal waste, charcoal, coconuts, plastics, twist ties, rubber bands, receipts, insect-infested plants, vines, excavated soil.

“We are so pleased to open this new Food Scrap Drop-off site in partnership with Council Member Julie Menin and Asphalt Green,” said GrowNYC President and CEO Marcel Van Ooyen. “For more than half a century, GrowNYC has worked to empower New York City residents to secure a healthy, clean environment. The conversion of food scraps into compost –and diversion of these scraps from landfill– is a huge part of this work, and it would not be possible without the continued support of the New York City Department of Sanitation, for which we are enormously grateful.”

According to the city’s Sanitation Department (DSNY), approximately one-third of the residential garbage in New York City is organic waste. Composting keeps this waste out of landfills and reduces the draw of rodents to garbage. Locally made compost can also be used in the city’s green spaces.

The Mayor’s proposal for the preliminary city budget includes halting the re-introduction of curbside composting pickup, which would save $18 million dollars of the proposed $98.5 billion budget. Prior to the pandemic in 2020, less than half the city’s population had the option to request  DSNY’s brown compost bins for pickup, and with potential budget cuts, the program was paused under the de Blasio administration. The city began to reinstate limited curbside composting pickup in October 2021.

“DSNY is committed to helping fill in the gaps in the City’s waste diversion efforts, including by expanding access to community composting sites like these. I want to thank Councilmember Menin and Asphalt Green for their leadership in establishing this GrowNYC site, and urge all New Yorkers to find the one nearest them at nyc.gov/dropfoodscraps. Together, we can keep food waste out of landfills,” said Edward Grayson, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Sanitation.