To: Borough Presidents, Council Members, Community Boards:
A newspaper article reported that over the last few days the organic material collected in the Department of Sanitation curbside organics collection program is being sent to landfill as a result of the closure of the Peninsula compost facility in Delaware. The article is not correct. To be clear, residential Brown Bin material is being composted and will continue to be composted. The Department of Sanitation is proud to see the pilot program expanded to more than 100,000 homes, including some high-rise apartments in Manhattan. The Department of Sanitation continues to work to improve the pilot program. Material collected on Staten Island is composted at our Staten Island compost facility, while material collected in other boroughs is sent to private composting facilities in Connecticut and upstate New York. Material in most residential organics trucks is good quality and relatively low in contamination.
The material collected at city schools is our primary challenge at this time. Contamination in the organic material collected from some NYC Schools forces DSNY to tip the entire load as refuse at the transfer station. The now-closed Peninsula compost facility had mechanical preprocessing technology that could handle a some of the contamination in these school trucks.
In addition, contamination is not an across-the-board problem in all city schools, and we are working with the Dept. of Education to zero in on those schools in need of extra assistance in reducing contamination. System wide, the Dept. of Education is pursuing an innovative multi-city procurement for compostable trays, utensils and packaging, and is increasing its intensive outreach to educate students and school staff about proper source separation. While the closure of Peninsula is a short-term setback for composting programs across the region, New York City has adequate capacity for our program at this time and we continue to look at various processing technologies to handle NYC organic waste streams.
Thank you for your continued interest and support.
Henry A. Ehrhardt
Director, Customer Relations
Division of Customer Service and Government Relations
New York City Department of Sanitation – DSNY