Curbside compost pickup is coming to Queens starting Monday.

The new program will be the largest of its kind in the country. It follows years of advocacy for more ways to recycle organic waste, which makes up a third of New York City’s daily trash.

The Department of Sanitation says the pilot program has appeal beyond its environmental benefits. Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch said residents with rodent problems should be pleased.

“This is probably one of the best rat mitigation strategies that any city has. Twenty-four million pounds of trash and recycling sit out on the curb every single day. One-third of that — over a third of that — is food waste,” Tisch said in an interview. “Food waste is what attracts the rats.”

On Wednesday, Gothamist tagged along with a sanitation department team informing Astoria residents of the new program.

“Anything that’ll help with trash and extra waste … and clean the earth a little bit better — make New York City cleaner — is a good thing that I’m excited about,” said Macy Strimple, a mother of two.

Here’s a rundown of what 2.2 million Queens residents can expect from the program announced by Mayor Eric Adams in August.

What can I compost?

Yard waste and food waste are fair game.

The former includes leaves, flowers, twigs, and grass. Queens has the most yards in the five boroughs and is home to 41% of the city’s street trees.

Food waste includes scraps, cheese, bones, eggshells, and much more. Food-soiled paper, paper plates, and used coffee filters can also be composted.

The sanitation department will also accept items certified as compostable by the Biodegradable Products Institute. Readers can look up those items here.

I live in Queens. How do I participate?

Residents of buildings with fewer than 10 units can order a free brown bin from the sanitation department by Saturday, Oct. 1.

Residents in buildings with 10 or more units should have already received brown bins.

Those who miss the deadline can use their own sealed, rat-proof bins for food scraps. The maximum size for bins is 55 gallons, according to the sanitation department, and the bins should be labeled with a composting bin decal. Readers can download or order the decal here. Yard waste can be put in a personal bag or bin.

Bags of New York City compost will soon be a common sight in Queens.

When does my compost get picked up?

Compost pickup happens once a week, on the same day as a resident’s designated recycling day. Readers can look up their collection day here. Service runs through late December, then takes a three-month hiatus in the winter, when there is little yard waste. During that period, composters will need to find alternative ways to dispose of their food waste, or just trash it the old-fashioned way. Compost collection resumes in late March 2023.

Where does all the compost go?

Once organic waste is collected, some of it will go to a major composting facility on Staten Island. From there, it will undergo a process over several months that will ultimately bring nutrient-rich soil to the city’s parks and community gardens, according to Tisch.

A portion of the waste collected will also be converted into “clean energy” through a process called anaerobic digestion. The sanitation department will take that waste to “digesters,” where bacteria break down organic material and convert it into biogas for energy production.

Some of the collected material will also go to a composting facility in Massachusetts, Tisch said.

A sanitation worker spreads the word in Astoria about the new compost program.

Why Queens?

The borough was selected in part because eastern Queens produces a substantial amount of the city’s yard waste. Western Queens, according to Tisch, has long been “clamoring for a curbside organics program.”

Giovana Cordero already had a bin on its way to her building when a sanitation worker approached her on Wednesday. “It’s the least we can do as a community to help the city,” she said. “It’s a valuable cause.”

I don’t live in Queens. When do I get compost pickup?

There is an opt-in program for other parts of the city, but it doesn’t serve all neighborhoods. A list of participating neighborhoods is here. It’s unclear when, or if, the Queens program will expand citywide.

Tisch said the sanitation department would consider that possibility after assessing the Queens composting pilot. She will be paying particular attention to resident participation, which is determined by truck weight.

The commissioner did say she hopes the next curbside composting program will be the city’s “last” — suggesting she’s inclined to expand citywide.

How much does this cost taxpayers?

The Queens pilot program will cost $2 million. Tisch said 76 sanitation workers hired for compost duties are “ready to go.”

Louis Col Jr., who has lived in Astoria since 1950, signed up this week after a sanitation worker knocked on his door.

When asked why he decided to participate, Col Jr. replied, “to keep the environment clean, I guess.”