Council Votes to Create Citywide Residential Curbside Organics Collection Program
The penalties for not properly sorting out organic waste will be the same for not sorting recyclables.
The City Council recently voted to approve the Zero Waste Act, a package of five bills aimed at reducing the amount of organic waste in landfills. The legislative package codifies a mandatory residential curbside organics collection program, sets zero waste targets for 2030, requires annual reporting on Zero Waste efforts, creates community food scrap drop-off sites, and establishes new community recycling centers in the five boroughs. The bill has been sent to Mayor Adams, who is likely to sign it into law. According to the City Council, the Zero Waste Act positions New York City as a national leader on zero waste policies, and addresses the over 11,000 tons of residential waste that New Yorkers produce daily. A mandatory organics collection program would keep food scraps and yard waste out of landfills and incinerators and send them to composting facilities. Taking these organic materials out of the waste stream would be one of the most effective steps that New York City could take to reduce its own global warming emissions. And when curbside organics collection programs are operating, food scraps are placed out for collection in vermin-proof bins, rather than the plastic bags, which could help in the city’s fights against its rat population. Here are some details of the legislative package:
Introduction 244-A, sponsored by Speaker Adrienne Adams and Council Member Shahana Hanif, establishes a permanent citywide residential curbside collection program to divert organic waste. The program requires residents to separate both yard waste and organic waste, such as food scraps, for regular weekly curbside collection by the Department of Sanitation (DOS). It will be phased in, with citywide coverage by October 2024.
Earlier this year, Mayor Adams and the DOS announced the rollout of a voluntary citywide organics collection program built off a successful pilot program in Queens. While the administration already planned on rolling out the organics waste collection program citywide by October 2024, the Council’s program is mandatory.
Specifically, the bill requires the DOS to develop an implementation plan for an organic waste collection program and submit the plan to the City Council by July 1. The Department of Sanitation is also required to report the weight of the total amount of organic waste diverted, develop an education and outreach campaign, and develop the administrative rules for the program. The agency will also have to distribute rodent-proof organics collection bins.
The penalties for failing to properly sort out organic waste will be the same for failing to properly sort out recycling materials. Residential buildings with fewer than nine dwelling units will get $25 for the first fine, $50 for the second, and $100 for every subsequent fine within a period of 12 months. Residential buildings with nine units or more can face fines of $100 for the first violation, $200 for the second violation, and $400 for the third violation. Until April 1, 2025, however, the first violation will result in only a warning.
Introduction 274-A, sponsored by Council Member Sandy Nurse, establishes a goal of zero divertible waste for New York City by 2030. The DOS would be required to report to the Council if this goal can’t be met.
Introduction 275-A, sponsored by Council Member Sandy Nurse, would require the DOS to report on its efforts to increase waste diversion rates. The report must include information on specific materials and their recyclability, and efforts to recycle or reuse materials collected through public litter baskets and other sources.
Introduction 280-B, sponsored by Majority Leader Keith Powers, would require the DOS to establish community recycling centers in every borough, to collect materials that are not collected through regular curbside collection but that can be recycled or reused. Information about each facility would be posted online. The bill also requires the DOS to submit reports to the Council about the usage of each site.
Introduction 281-B, sponsored by Majority Leader Powers, would require the DOS to establish a minimum number of organic waste drop-off sites in each borough, and a minimum number citywide. Information about each drop-off site would be posted online. The bill also requires the DOS to submit reports to the Council about the usage of each site.