Friday, March 4, 2011

Composting Pilot Program Introduced at Greenmarkets in Brooklyn, City

If you're like me, every time you throw out food scraps or egg shells, you feel a little guilty. But I don't have a worm bin, and to be honest, it grosses me out a little (yeah, I read and saw No Impact Man, I know about all the bugs you get when you compost in your apartment. Otherwise I'd jump on that bandwagon). So I'm super happy about GrowNYC's new composting program.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and GrowNYC, joined by Ron Bergamini of Action Carting, announced the launch of a pilot program to provide composting services to NYC residents at six new Greenmarket locations, 10 in total. The pilot was developed by GrowNYC’s Greenmarket and Office of Recycling Outreach and Education programs.

In Brooklyn, composting services will now be available at the McCarren Park Greenmarket (Union Ave between Driggs and N 12th St) on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Fort Greene Greenmarket (Washington Park at DeKalb) on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the Borough Hall Greenmarket on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Composting drop-off sites were already in place at the Fort Greene Greenmarket (conducted by the Fort Greene Compost Project), the Union Square Greenmarket (held by GrowNYC and the Lower East Side Ecology Center) and two Greemarkets in Queens (conducted by the Western Queens Compost Initiative).

Accepted materials include fruit and vegetable scraps, non-greasy food scraps (rice, pasta, bread, cereal etc.), coffee grounds and filters, tea bags, egg and nut shells, pits, cut or dried flowers, houseplants and potting soil. Unacceptable materials: meat, chicken, fish, greasy food scraps, fat, oil, dairy, dog or cat waste, kitty litter, coal or charcoal, coconuts, diseased and/or insect-infested houseplants/soil or biodegradable/compostable plastics.

Food scraps can be collected in large yogurt containers or other covered plastic containers, plastic bags, milk cartons or in commercially-available compost pails. To reduce odors at home and at the Greenmarket, store items in the freezer or refrigerator. A layer of shredded newspaper at the bottom of your storage container also helps.

Food comprises about 17 percent of NYC’s waste stream. When this material is sent to a landfill it contributes to NYC’s disposal costs and creates greenhouse gas emissions. When composted, food scraps and other organic waste become a useful product that adds nutrients and improves the quality of soil for street trees, gardens and more.

“Last year in my Food Works speech one of our goals was to get more people to compost their scraps. You could throw a banana peel or apple core in the garbage but that’s just wasting valuable energy,” said Quinn. “I’m  thrilled to be able to support the opening of these new compost drop-off sites, and what better place to offer them than at the Greenmarkets, where many of the fruits and vegetables sold benefit from the rich, nutrient-filled compost NYC residents will be contributing to every time they drop their food scraps.”

“We’re thrilled that Speaker Quinn and the New York City Council is helping us offer residents a tangible resource that will shrink their trash pile-up and create a precious resource that will benefit local gardens and farms,” said GrowNYC Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen. “Compost collection complements other services GrowNYC offers city dwellers looking to lower their environmental impact, including Greenmarkets, textile collections, cell phone and battery recycling, environmental education and technical and material assistance we provide community and school gardens.”

Based on the success of the pilot, GrowNYC will explore running the 6 new collection sites on a permanent basis.