CPN launched a volunteer-run Food Scrap Drop Off site (FSDO) on Jan. 27, 2022 in College Point Park, located on 14th Ave. and College Point Blvd. We did this to fill the void created when NYC cancelled curbside organics collection during the Covid pandemic. Within 8 months, participation in our FSDO grew to the point that residents dropped off about 400 lbs of food scraps and yard waste each week! In October 2022, GrowNYC took over operation of the site with paid staff members. That same month, the city launched curbside organics collection for the entire borough of Queens, and committed to bringing curbside pickup to all five boroughs by 2024. The College Point FSDO was permanently closed in August 2023. You can now set your food scraps and yard waste by the curb every week on your recycling day!!!
What can you put in your curbside compost bin? Everything that can decompose! Fruits and vegetables; eggshells, nuts and nutshells; meats, bones, cheese; flowers and houseplant trimmings; coffee grounds and teabags; rice, bread, pasta, grains; BPI-certified compostable plastic products.
Are you new to this whole concept? A great way to start, is to start small. Each week, choose an item that you’ll store separately from your trash, like coffee grounds or tea bags. Put them in a reusable container or a paper/plastic bag. You can store scraps in the freezer, in a countertop bin, in a covered kitchen trash can, or even outdoors in a locked cooler during the winter. As you get into the habit, try separating more items, like, dinnertime veggie scraps, breakfast eggshells, or wilted flowers. You’ll quickly notice how much emptier your “trash” bag is.
Why did CPN launch College Point’s first-ever FSDO? One-third of NYC’s waste is “organic” – meaning, alive at some point. When tossed in the trash and dumped at landfills, organic waste takes up valuable space and releases a greenhouse gas (methane) that is at least 10x more potent than carbon dioxide. A smarter approach is to use food waste to make compost and renewable energy, diverting it from landfills. We launched our site in partnership with the NYC Compost Project at Queens Botanical Garden and with GrowNYC.
What happens to the food scraps collected in NYC? Scraps collected at CPN’s site were hauled by GrowNYC to the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Food waste and sewage sludge decompose inside of eight stainless steel “digester eggs” that are 145 feet tall and illuminated with blue light at night — you may have seen these near the Kosciuszko Bridge. There is no oxygen in these tanks, so waste is decomposed by anaerobic bacteria that produce methane and other byproducts to form a renewable natural gas. That gas can then be purified and used to generate electricity.The scraps will ultimately be converted into natural gas to power thousands of homes.
Other food scraps collected throughout the city are turned into compost that’s used in city parks and given out free to residents, and some scraps are shipped to a composting facility in Massachusetts. Read more about the program in Gothamist and on Waste 360.
College Point’s site was one of 200+ sites (some run by volunteers, other run by DSNY- and GrowNYC-funded staff) across the five boroughs. Other food scrap drop off sites continue to be operated, and smart bins are located throughout the city. Read more.
Special thanks to our partners at: the NYC Compost Project at Queens Botanical Garden, who helped launch our FSDO; GrowNYC, for hauling our scraps and bringing us empty bins each week; Big Reuse, for offering curbside composting education at our FSDO; and the NYC Parks Department, for weekly use of College Point Park and storage space for our toters.