Organics Matter: the Dos and Don’ts of Composting in Lower Manhattan

09/19/2022 in
Organics Matter: the Dos and Don’ts of Composting in Lower Manhattan

Composting is a simple way to make a difference in NYC’s carbon footprint, but it’s okay if you’re unsure how it works. 

About one-third of the city’s garbage could be composted, rather than being sent to the landfill where it will emit harmful greenhouse gasses. But now, thanks to the Downtown Alliance’s pilot program, composting has never been easier. By using our bins, you’re keeping food waste out of the landfill and doing your part to mitigate climate change. Here’s a helpful rundown of dos and don’ts to make certain you’re composting the right way — and that nothing is going to waste. 


Set Up a Stink-Free Storage System 

Storing your compost in between drop-offs doesn’t have to be daunting. If you have the space at home, storing it in a bag in your freezer is the easiest way. (And, if you’re using plastic bags to store, remember to toss those in the trash once you’ve dropped off your food waste.) You can also buy sealed countertop containers specially-made for storing compost at home. 

Compost All Food Waste 

Food waste includes anything you eat or drink: egg shells, expired or rotten produce, bread, bones, plus coffee grounds and tea bags. 

Compost Food-Soiled Items 

Food-stained napkins, paper towels, paper bags and paper boxes can go in the compost. But if they’re coated in some way — say with wax or plastic — they have to go in the regular trash. 

Remove Stickers From Produce 

Those stickers are everywhere, but they are not compostable. Peel them off before you toss your husks! 

Compost Yard and Plant Waste 

Pandemic plants not doing so hot? Cut off the dead leaves and put them in your compost! Same goes for any plant matter, including dead flowers, trimmings, twigs, plus leaves and grass clippings.

Search BPI for Other Compostable Items 

Other packaging labeled “compostable” gets tricky; not everything labeled compostable can be handled by every composting system. For our composting bins, check the Biodegradable Products Institute first to see if the item is listed. Compostable bowls and silverware are generally okay. 

Download the Composting App

To access the self-serve bins, download the eGate Digi app using this link on your smartphone and sign up for an account. Access to compost is then just a Bluetooth device away. More instructions for getting started are available at our website.


Put Trash in the Compost Bins

This seems like an obvious one but the question of what counts as trash in this situation may be tricky. Anything that you wouldn’t eat is trash, along with diapers, hygienic products, animal waste, non-paper wrappers and food packaging, foam products and chopsticks. Recyclable materials — metal, glass, hard plastic, clean paper and cardboard — go in the recycling bins. 

Don’t “Wish Compost” 

If you’re not sure something is compostable, don’t put it in the bin! Otherwise, it could mess up the whole composting pile — and someone else will have to dig it out for you. 

Tags: composting

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