Your Composting Questions Answered
Did you know that over one-third of NYC’s residential waste is compostable?
One of the most important things we can do to protect the environment and benefit our city is compost our food scraps. We’ve helped make composting easier than ever for our neighbors by partnering with the non-profit organization GrowNYC. Together, we are holding weekly food scrap drop-off events in the park every Wednesday from 8 AM–1 PM.
We’re also here to answer your composting questions. So let’s dive into some common questions we’ve received over the past few weeks:
How do I keep compost from smelling bad between drop-offs?
Scraps can be stored in a glass container with a lid or in sealed, compostable bags. To further avoid unwanted odors, you can freeze your food scraps between drop-offs.
If there isn’t space in your freezer, look for a countertop bin with a charcoal filter. Be sure to clean it regularly with a splash of bleach, and dry thoroughly after use. Newspaper or shredded toilet paper rolls can be added to the bottom of the bins to collect extra moisture.
When they aren’t separated, food scraps enter our regular waste stream, adding to the trash the Department of Sanitation is responsible for transporting. Trash from NYC can be transported as far as 650 miles, and garbage trucks release carbon emissions during these trips. Additionally, once in a landfill, food waste releases harmful methane as it breaks down, contributing to climate change.
Food scraps are different from other waste we create because they can easily be made into fertilizer. By separating your food scraps at home and bringing them to the drop-off, you are decreasing the overall amount of waste in landfills, reducing harmful emissions, and helping fortify local gardens and trees.
How are the food scraps that I drop off at the park used?
Our friends at GrowNYC work with the Department of Sanitation to locally process food scraps into a valuable fertilizer product that is used in gardens and tree beds across New York City. When you compost you are literally making the city greener!
Other than food, what can be collected?
Each composting program is different depending on the capabilities of the processing station. Compostable items dropped off in Madison Square Park are processed by the Department of Sanitation, who can accept:
- Fruit & vegetable scraps
- Non-greasy food scraps (rice, pasta, bread, grains, cereal, nuts)
- Coffee grounds & filters, tea bags
- Egg shells
- Cut flowers & houseplants
- Soiled brown paper products
- Potting soil
To avoid contaminating the compost, check for plastics, twist ties, rubber bands, and receipts that could be mixed in with your scraps.
Are there any plans to add more drop-off days?
Believe it or not, Wednesdays are the busiest days in the park. Offering the food scrap drop-off on Wednesdays allows our neighbors to drop off food scraps on their morning commute, or at lunch time. It also provides commuters with a place to bring their food scraps if they don’t have access to a drop-off location near their home.
If Wednesday’s don’t work for your family, or you need an extra drop-off day, you can check out all of GrowNYC’s Food Scrap Drop-Off locations on their website.
Thanks for all your questions, and for taking an interest in helping us compost. We hope this information has been helpful, and we look forward to seeing you at a future food scrap drop-off event!