Resource Recycling News

NYC eyes source-separated yard debris mandate

The mandate’s implementation would follow a rolling timeline, taking effect in Queens before expanding to the city’s other boroughs. | Gorloff KV/Shutterstock

America’s largest city proposed making the source separation of yard material mandatory and allowing commingling of organic scraps with the yard debris.

The New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) will hold a workshop on the rule change April 27. 

Sanitation commissioner Jessica Tisch told the New York Times that “yard waste is the right place to start because it’s something New Yorkers already naturally separate.”

“There’s no real behavioral change required, and I think you have to ease into these mandates,” Tisch added. 

According to the rule change documents, organics makes up 34% of all residential waste in New York City and 4% of greenhouse gas emissions. 

“Diverting organic waste from the refuse stream can fight rats, divert waste from landfills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create beneficial products that enliven our parks and gardens or power homes with renewable energy,” the proposal noted. 

Rule details 

If adopted, the rule would mandate source separation of yard debris from March 1 to July 31 and from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30 each year. Other organic waste, such as food scraps, could be separated on a voluntary basis or commingled with yard debris, it noted.

Owners or managers of buildings with four or more residential units would be required to designate space for the storage of yard debris and provide appropriate containers. 

The rule would also make technical revisions to remove “unnecessary and hard-to-enforce requirements regarding labeling and post-consumer recycled content in containers and plastic bags for designated recyclable materials.” 

The move follows a successful curbside composting pilot DSNY started in October 2022. After the pilot, the city decided to provide curbside composting to all other boroughs on a rolling basis. The implementation of source-separated yard debris will follow the same rolling timeline, if passed. 

That would mean Queens would be the first borough to see the change starting on the effective date of the rule, followed by Brooklyn on Oct. 2, 2023; the Bronx and Staten Island on March 25, 2024; and Manhattan on Oct. 7, 2024. 

DSNY plans to provide a three-month education and warning period before issuing fines, the document stated. 


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