THE BRONX, N.Y. — New York City’s waste stream will be lighter now that 205 food scrap drop-off sites are available across the five boroughs.
Edward Grayson, the commissioner of the Department of Sanitation, said one-third of the waste stream is compostable material and having these sites available has rerouted that material.
“We have diverted over 1.8 million pounds of compostable material from landfill,” Grayson said. “That is an incredible achievement.”
Food scrap drop-off sites were cut during the pandemic because of funding issues, but now there are more sites than before the COVID-19 crisis.
Bridget Anderson, DSNY’s deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Recycling and Sustainability, said when compostable material is in landfills not decomposed properly, it releases harmful toxins in the air
“Your daily anti-depressant is dropping off your food scraps,” Anderson said. “You’ve done one thing today that is directly impacting reducing methane emissions.”
For Bronx resident Jen Gomez, she kills two birds with one stone by nourishing the earth and giving her dog a longer walk.
“I just feel like I’m doing my part for the environment and it actually really helps my trash situation at home as far as keeping smells out of my apartment,” Gomez said.
DSNY acknowledges that this wouldn’t have been possible without the help of community partners like New Roots Community Farm in the South Bronx where the announcement was made on Friday.
Maria Sigalas is the economic empowerment manager of the International Rescue Committee which oversees the farm.
“We help maintain the site, but really, our community members are the ones that are doing most of the work here growing food, choosing what crops they want to grow,” Sigalas said.
The farm composts on site but GrowNYC takes care of the overfill by bringing the bins to Newtown Creek Facility in Brooklyn where the scraps are turned into compost.
Having the bins available removes barriers to participation.
“Most time, good intention fails to meet opportunity and with these sites, what you have across the city is the opportunity for people who want to do the right thing with their food scraps, who want to do the right thing for the environment to actually have a place to go,” Grayson said.
Even if the impact feels small, it’s part of a longer journey to reaching sustainability for generations to come.