Jan. 16, 2023 By Bill Parry
When Mayor Eric Adams came to Flushing Meadows Corona Park in August to announce that Queens had been selected for the launch of the nation’s largest curbside composting program starting in October, the first time that an entire borough would receive the service, few could have imagined how wildly successful the program would be.
Over the first three months of the initiative, Queens kept 12.7 million pounds of waste out of the landfill and southeast Queens, which had never had the curbside composting service before, diverted more material than the other seven districts combined.
But just as the borough was getting its composting groove back, the Department of Sanitation announced the program would be put on hold for the winter saying the borough was selected for the pilot because it is home to 41 percent of New York City’s street trees and there is not much yard waste in wintertime.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards sent a letter to DSNY Commissioner Jessica Tisch on Jan. 5 praising the program and advocating for the pause to be lifted.
“The success of the initiative over its first six weeks, beginning with its launch in October 2022, has been stunning. According to DSNY data, 5.7 million pounds of organic waste being collected, with a 274 percent increase from week one to week six,” Richards wrote.
“Furthermore, a combined 1.6 million pounds of waste have been collected just from Community Districts 12 and 13 in southeast Queens — historically disadvantaged communities that have often received fewer resources from our city. This is an indisputable triumph we should be capitalizing on and continuing, not suspending.”
Richards added that by encouraging residents at civic meetings, through community giveaways and on social media to participate in composting, their participation in the program is being reinforced and rewarded, becoming part of the borough’s culture of sustainability.
“The Queens curbside organics program is an initiative my office deeply values and believes in,” Richards concluded. “It is with pride in the program that I request that the suspension be lifted, allowing collection to continue without further interruption.”
DSNY reviewed the borough president’s letter, but the winter hiatus will continue until the curbside composting service returns on March 27.
“The borough president has been a fantastic partner in the Queens composting program, and we will definitely take his feedback into account for next year,” a DSNY spokesman told QNS.
This story was originally published by QNS