Proposed NYC Budget Cuts Community Compost, Makes More Room for Methane Gas

Anna Garrison - Author

Nov. 29 2023, Published 4:50 p.m. ET

Person holding compost in their hands.
Source: iStock

The Gist:

  • New York City's November 2023 sanitation budget attempts to trim down spending but will also gut funding to at least four community compost programs by the end of the year.
  • The Department of Sanitation has its own compost programs, but in these programs, food scraps are turned into slurry and ultimately generate greenhouse gases instead of actually becoming fertilizer.
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Like many cities across the United States, New York City has been attempting to change its carbon footprint with a number of climate initiatives. One of the biggest pushes with these initiatives has been a series of community compost organizations. Botanical gardens across the city are also participating in composting to try to turn food scraps into fertilizer.

Unfortunately, however, the November 2023 sanitation budget is attempting to cut down city spending at the expense of community organizations trying to clean up NYC's emissions. Here's what you need to know about the situation.

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Large compost bin on farm.
Source: iStock

NYC sanitation budget proposal suggests cuts to green composting organizations.

According to New York-based outlet The City, at least four community compost organizations are in jeopardy of city funding cuts starting on Jan 1, 2024. These organizations include Earth Matter, BIG Reuse, the Lower East Side Ecology Center, and GrowNYC.

The difference between community-based organizations and what the Department of Sanitation composting looks like is simple. The City explains that community composting utilizes over 200 collection sites (marked with green bins!) to send food scraps to be composted locally.

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However, the Department of Sanitation's food scraps, which can be placed in orange or brown bins, aren't composted. Instead, the contents of these bins are turned into a slurry and "digested" at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility, a sewage plant in Brooklyn.

Once there, the process of "digestion" creates something called biogas, which helps to power the Newtown treatment plant — but is composed mostly of the harmful greenhouse gas methane.

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The New York City community has spoken out against the proposed budget cuts and provided residents with action items to do the same.

Users like @trashisfortossers or Lauren Singer have been speaking out against the proposed budget cut. GrowNYC, one of the affected organizations, also issued a statement asking users to sign a petition asking New York City Mayor Eric Adams to restore the funding to community composters.

GrowNYC's statement on Instagram reads, "Mayor Adams announced budget cuts that will end community composting programs across the city, including GrowNYC’s and we need your support! Please sign our petition asking Mayor Adams to restore this funding and urge your New York City Council to advocate for this important programming.No composting effort in NYC can succeed without a strong community composting network. We need your help more than ever."

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Additionally, organizations such as @saveourcompost and @bigreuse have been posting action items to encourage New York City residents to stand up against the budget, such as signing the GrowNYC petition and contacting their local council members to vote against the budget cuts on Dec. 6, 2023.

There is also a community rally organized by GrowNYC on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023, in case residents are moved to take to the streets.

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