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City Scales Back Organics Compost Pickups In 11 Neighborhoods

The brown bins for NYC's curbside organics recycling program
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The brown bins for NYC's curbside organics recycling program Scott Lynch/ Gothamist

Back in June, the NYC Department of Sanitation halted the expansion of its organics recycling program, which currently serves 3.5 million residents. Now the department has decided to collect curbside compost less frequently, and apparently some Brooklyn residents didn't get the memo. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports that this past week, sanitation workers never collected curbside compost in Cobble Hill, creating a smelly situation on some blocks.

A sanitation worker told the Eagle that the department changed the pickup routine from Tuesdays and Fridays to just Fridays, and claimed that residents were never informed. Tuesday was still listed as a pickup date on the DSNY Info App; the Sanitation Department said they will update the app to reflect this week's changes.

Dina Montes, press secretary of the Department of Sanitation, told Gothamist that mailers were sent to residents of the affected neighborhoods, and that DSNY participated in community board meetings to discuss the changes to organics pickups. On Wednesday, June 13th, a representative of DSNY explained the changes to a Brooklyn Community Board 6 General Meeting. The Sanitation Department also distributed flyers at 20 different community events, and 37,000 postcards were mailed in Brooklyn Community Board 6.

Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia boasted about the progress of the curbside organics program in a July 19th press release, but later that month the department cut back on compost pickups in 11 neighborhoods: Cobble Hill, Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Gowanus and Park Slope, Auburndale, Bayside, Little Neck and Oakland Gardens, Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights. DSNY tweeted about the changes yesterday.

"We believe that for the program to be successful over the long term we must ensure New Yorkers are getting the very best service when curbside organics collection reaches their neighborhood," Garcia previously told Gothamist. "To achieve this, the city is evaluating its current service with the goal of increasing efficiencies and streamlining the program."

But even residents participating in the program are only separating 10.6% of their compostable waste into the brown bins for organics, according to the Department of Sanitation's own numbers for fiscal year 2017, which ended in June 2017. The rest ends up in the landfill.

The initiative was introduced under Mayor Bloomberg in 2013, and at the time, sanitation officials predicted that composting would be mandatory by 2015 or 2016. In 2014, Mayor de Blasio expanded the program.

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