Mayor Eric Adams on Monday truly did propose a New York City first: a composting mandate.
In an unprecedented move, residents of NYC will be required to separate garbage and organic waste under penalty of fines. Adams’ policy in particular takes aim at yard waste. New Yorkers with yards need to separate biodegradable materials (flowers, leaves, twigs, and grass clippings) from other waste into a separate bin for pickup by the NYC Department of Sanitation. It would be required for eight months of the year: March to July and September to November.
The New York Times says the Queens mandate will most likely take effect in June. DSNY records say that Brooklyn’s mandate will take effect on October 2, 2023, The Bronx and Staten Island’s mandate will take effect on March 25, 2024, and Manhattan’s will begin on October 7, 2024
“Yard waste is the right place to start because it’s something New Yorkers already naturally separate,” Jessica Tisch, Commissioner of DSNY, told the New York Times. “There’s no real behavioral change required, and I think you have to ease into these mandates.”
DSNY will commence a three-month education and warning period in each borough before residents get violations that will range in cost from $25 for a first-time offense to $400 for a third-time offense.
This new policy will be instituted as the city also rolls out its voluntary curbside composting program set to start in Brooklyn this coming October. Other boroughs will follow into 2024 to make it the largest program of its kind in the country. In only three months after it began this past October, the successful Queens pilot program accumulated over 12.7 million pounds of organic waste.
The message is clear: New Yorkers want to be sustainable.