February 7, 2023

Sanitary officials say by designing more efficient routes and work schedules, their plan cuts the cost of biological activities per neighborhood by more than half, from $860,000 to a projected $320,000. The new cost of the program totals $2 million, which is less than $1 per Queens resident.

Innovations include trucks that only follow compost routes that reach more homes per day. Other routes will use double-sided trucks to collect both recyclable and organic material. The department will hire 76 new sanitation workers who are organic-only, helping to reduce overtime.

Queens has more trees and yards than other boroughs and was chosen because yard waste is an entry point that has helped cities like Seattle and Toronto achieve high composting rates as people already have to pack cuttings and leaves into separate bags.

The community’s diversity — densely populated apartment blocks, single-family homes, large public housing complexes and several deprived areas — will also test how best to make composting universal and equitable, officials said.

Mr. Goodman said another pilot program exceeded expectations. The city placed sealed compost bins on sidewalks. By unlocking them with an app and turning a lever, people can deposit organic waste. The bins, which are usually placed in the Astoria section of Queens, fill up daily, with almost no inappropriate items.

New street bins, mainly in Upper Manhattan, the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn, bring the total to 400.

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