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Composting in New York City Goes Big Time

If you thought you had an efficient composting system, you’ve got to read this article Elizabeth Royte wrote for the New York Times entitled The Compost King of New York.

The New York City Sanitation Department has instituted a Zero Waste program that asks residents to separate their food scraps and yard waste in separate brown bins which are collected curbside or via neighborhood collection bins. This waste is picked up separately to reduce the amount of methane producing refuse in the sanitation landfills.

Royte was curious where the food scraps she was leaving at her curbside or others were depositing in the various receptacles around NYC actually went.

She followed the trail and her findings are in this article for the NY Times. Royte visits a farm that accepts food scraps and produce waste from grocery stores. The organic material is composted in the familiar methods. The some of the resulting soil is used on the farm while the rest is sold by the cubic yard to help offset the farm’s expenses.

Elizabeth Royte will also introduce you to a man who is convinced his $50 million investment into an anaerobic digester will reap profits from the renewable fuel he will produce at his massive complex in Yapank, New York. The rotting of organic matter combined with sewage also collected will generate a biogas that will be captured to power his plant and possibly provide heat and electricity for surrounding homes. There is an unending source for raw material since New York City pays him to take the food scraps that sanitation trucks collect curbside each week.

You will also meet a man who has been studying rotting things his entire career and he will explain carbon benefits of composting versus anaerobically digesting organic materials.

If you are into composting as I am, you will find this article fascinating. Elizabeth Royte has written three books available on Amazon.

Royte has also published an article for Audubon about neonicotinoids and how the pesticide linked with bee decline might also be threatening birds.

Photo credit: Death To Stock Photography