State of the City | Curbside composting will expand citywide by end of next year, Adams says

Mayor Adams stands with city officials to announce the Queens organics composting program
Mayor Adams and city officials announce the Queens composting program at the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park on Aug. 8.
Michael Appleton/Mayor’s office

Bring on the brown bins!

The city will expand its curbside composting program to all five boroughs by the end of next year, Mayor Eric Adams announced on Thursday.

The mayor made the announcement at his State of the City address Thursday, invoking the war on his archnemesis, rats, in promulgating the citywide program.

“We’re going to ‘Get Stuff Cleaner’ by launching the country’s largest curbside composting program,” Hizzoner said during his speech at the Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, before assembled dignitaries. “By the end of 2024, all 8.5 million New Yorkers will finally have the rat-defying solution they’ve been waiting for for two decades.”

The news was first reported Thursday morning by the New York Times.

After years of false starts and opt-in neighborhood programs scattered across the city, the Adams administration launched a borough-wide curbside organics pilot in Queens for three months last year, no signup required. On Thursday, the mayor deemed the pilot successful, diverting nearly 13 million pounds of food and yard waste away from landfills en route to become nutritious, earthy compost.

“That’s more than the weight of 300 city buses,” the mayor noted. “Imagine how much we will accomplish when every family in the city is participating. A lot of people have talked about this issue, but this administration is getting it done.”

During the pilot, Queens residents were able to request a free brown compost bin from the Department of Sanitation, or a sticker to place on their own bin denoting its role in collecting food and yard waste.

Compost collection will resume in Queens on March 27 and arrive boroughwide in Brooklyn on October 2, the Times reported. The Bronx and Staten Island will join the program in March 2024, and the program will become truly citywide in October 2024 when Manhattan joins the party.

Compostable items to toss in the brown bin include yard waste, food scraps, and food-soiled paper products. About one-third of the 24 million tons of trash produced daily in the Big Apple consists of compostable organic matter, but most ends up at the dump with everything else. By separating organic waste from regular household trash, New Yorkers can prevent it from going to landfills and instead rest assured it will be turned into nutrient-rich soil for use in city parks.

As of now, the program will remain voluntary, but DSNY Commissioner Jessica Tisch told the Times the program may become mandatory as the city attempts to limit the amount of discarded waste produced by its residents, businesses, and government.

Spokespersons for the DSNY declined to comment further, directing amNewYork Metro to comments made by Tisch to the Times, except to note more information would be made public next week.

Expansion of composting is not the city’s only new initiative in the mayor’s ongoing War on Rats. He plans to hire a “Rat Czar” to coordinate the city’s policies towards the beleaguered rodents; he didn’t provide any update on the hiring process for the position, which could pay up to $170,000 per year, except to say it would not be Curtis Sliwa.

Hizzoner noted the increasing biodiversity seen in the city as it becomes cleaner, noting that dolphins had recently been spotted in the Bronx River. That suggests the waterway has become a significantly less harsh environment for wildlife in recent decades.

“That’s the future of our city,” the mayor said. “More dolphins, fewer rats!”