Residents

For city residents, recycling organics is a small change that makes a big impact!

NYC collects over 3 million tons of trash and recycling each year. Combined with commercial, construction, and demolition waste, NYC generates a total of 14 million tons of waste annually1 – that’s over 1,000 Empire State Buildings each year.2

But NYC’s residential recycling rate is only 15% even though nearly 75% of our waste is recyclable.3

The City is working to fix this problem through PlaNYC 2030, which aims to divert 75% of recyclable materials from landfills by 2030.4

In 2013 NYC began piloting curbside compost collection in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island, with plans to expand.

Now, city collection programs operate regularly throughout Manhattan, and in the outer boroughs the curbside pickup program is underway.

NYC Residential Waste Collection Breakdown5
When there are 8 million people there is a lot of excess.
But with that many people, there is also an opportunity to make simple changes that impact the greater health of our city – like separating our organics from the garbage.
3 Steps for the Apartment Composter:
1
Separate your food scraps.

Take food scraps, or rotten foods and other acceptable items (see list below) and put them aside.

2
Place your scraps into a container.

You can use anything, a paper bag, Tupperware, old yogurt containers, takeout containers, a plastic bag for transport, but please keep in mind plastic is not compostable. When buying  compostable bags, look for the “ASTM D6400 specification”, and be sure to check ahead that your compost site accepts them.

3
Work it into your routine!

Most city residents will compost by collecting the food scraps at home and dropping them off at a location nearest them. Find one near you!

What Can and Cannot Be Composted in NYC
All organic material can be composted, but because there are many ways to compost, different sites accept different sets of materials. Typically, if you are dropping off food scraps at a collection point in the city, meat, dairy, oils, and Certified Compostable Products are not accepted.

If your organics are collected curbside or by a private hauler, a wider variety of materials is generally accepted. Most commercial facilities accept meat, dairy, and Certified Compostable Products.
Greenmarket, Commuter Drop-Off, & Community Garden Programs
Acceptable Items:
  • Fruit and Vegetable Scraps
  • Non-greasy Foods (rice, pasta, bread, cereal, etc.)
  • Coffee Grounds and Filters
  • Tea Bags
  • Egg and Nut Shells
  • Pits
  • Dried or Cut Flowers
  • House Plants and Potting Soil
Not Acceptable:
  • Meat, Chicken, or Fish
  • Coconuts
  • Bones or Shells
  • Fat, Oil, or Dairy
  • Animal Waste
  • Litter or Bedding
  • Coal or Charcoal
  • Disease and/or Insect-Infected Houseplants & Soil
  • Certified Compostable Products
NYC Curbside & Private Hauler Collection
Acceptable Items:
  • Fruit and Vegetable Scraps
  • Non-greasy Foods (rice, pasta, bread, cereal, etc.)
  • Coffee Grounds and Filters
  • Tea Bags
  • Egg and Nut Shells
  • Pits and Coconuts
  • Dried or Cut Flowers
  • House Plants and Potting Soil
  • Certified Compostable Products
  • Meat, Fish, Bones, & Oily Foods
  • Plate Scraps, Soiled Paper, & Napkins
Not Acceptable:
  • Animal Waste
  • Litter or Bedding
  • Coal or Charcoal
  • Disease and/or Insect-Infected Houseplants & Soil

References: 1. PlaNYC. Web Source accessed 2014 2. Great Towers. Web Source accessed 2014 3. New York City, DSNY. Web Source accessed 2014 4. PlaNYC 2030 website. Web Source, accessed January 2015 5. NYC Waste Characterization Study, 2013 Annualized Results. Web Source, accessed June 2014.

Want to get your hands dirty?
Find community events and volunteer opportunities near you!
Click for our shared calendar