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Curbside Composting Returns to All of Queens and Beyond: Officials Praise Residents’ Efforts

Alina Wang
A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights, politics, tech, and society.
Published: March 30, 2023
A worker cleans a compost garbage can at the Union Square Greenmarket on March 19, 2021 in New York City. After undergoing various shutdown orders for the past 12 months the city is currently in phase 4 of its reopening plan, allowing for the reopening of low-risk outdoor activities, movie and television productions, indoor dining as well as the opening of movie theaters, all with capacity restrictions. (Image: Noam Galai via Getty Images)

QUEENS, New York — On March 26, New York City Commissioner for the Department of Sanitation, Jessica Tisch, Queens Borough President, Donovan Richards Jr., and community leaders came together at Archie Spigner Park — located at the intersection of Jamaica and St. Albans in Queens — to celebrate the reinstatement of curbside composting across the borough, scheduled to begin the following day. 

Last fall, the program diverted a total of 12.7 million pounds of food scraps, yard waste, and leaves from landfills in Queens, with eight of the borough’s 14 community districts outperforming Park Slope. Notably, the Jamaica and St. Albans neighborhoods diverted more waste from landfills than the entire pre-existing legacy composting program. 

Consequently, the universal model adopted in Queens, which involves collecting compost on recycling days without requiring sign-ups, has now become the gold standard and will be used to scale up the program citywide.

Tisch: ‘A simple, universal model’

Tisch expressed her belief that New Yorkers have always been willing to compost and divert rat food from landfills, which was proven true by the success of the program in Queens.

“I’ve always thought that New Yorkers wanted to do the right thing when it comes to composting — that they wanted to get the rat food out of the black bags and out of landfills,” she said, adding, “Last fall, Queens residents proved that to be true. Over the next 19 months, this same simple, universal model will come to every corner of the five boroughs, and it starts right here in Queens this week.” 

Tisch described how the straight-forward, yet efficient composting model will now be implemented across all of New York City’s five boroughs. 

‘Commitment to environmental initiatives’

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. commended the borough for its impressive achievement in diverting millions of pounds of waste in the span of a few months — demonstrating the residents’ commitment to environmental initiatives.

“When Queens puts its mind to something, we put all our weight behind it — the proof is in the nearly 13 million pounds of waste we diverted in just three months,” he said. 

Richards also emphasized the importance of such initiatives in the fight against climate change and ensuring a healthy and habitable borough for future generations. “I couldn’t be prouder of how the borough stepped up, specifically Southeast Queens, and shattered composting records last fall,” he said. 

“Initiatives like this are critical to our fight against climate change, and Queens will stop at nothing to ensure the borough we leave for our kids is not just habitable, but healthy,” Richards said, adding, “That’s exactly what we’re doing with this curbside composting program, and I can’t wait to see this program expand citywide in the year ahead.”

Both Commissioner Tisch and Borough President Richards announced that Queens residents will be able to pick up 40-pound bags of New York City compost for their yards and gardens this spring as a thank you for their contribution to the curbside composting program’s success. 

A model to follow

The Department will conduct more compost giveback events in every borough as the program expands, providing residents with usable soil the following year.

While curbside composting programs have existed in New York City for the last decade, none have ever served more than approximately 40 percent of the city. This new, simple, yet cost-effective model will scale citywide on the following timeline, the department says:

  • March 27, 2023: Service restarts in Queens following a brief winter pause and becomes year-round. There will be no further seasonal breaks in any borough.
  • October 2, 2023: Service begins in Brooklyn.
  • March 25, 2024: Service begins on Staten Island and in the Bronx.
  • October 7, 2024: Service comes to Manhattan, marking the first citywide curbside composting program ever.

For more information regarding the composting program, its implementation, and scheduling, visit the New York City Department of Sanitation’ website, or click here for more information.