With a population of about 8.4 million people from all kinds of backgrounds, it’s pretty safe to say that New York City has some of the rankest, foulest garbage in the world — but was it enough to overload an entire waste processing facility? The Inhabitat NYC team was overjoyed back in 2013 when Mayor Bloomberg announced a city-wide composting plan to divert 100,000 tons of food scraps from landfills each year, but now the program may be in jeopardy due to the closing of the facility tasked with processing all of that organic waste. Peninsula Composting Group in Wilmington, DE was shut down in October after a public hearing where hundreds of area residents gathered to file complaints about putrid odors emanating from the plant.
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According to WNYC, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control made the decision not to renew Peninsula Composting Group’s permit in light of the grievances of neighbors as well as findings of defunct equipment, standing pools of leachate (smelly garbage water, in layman’s terms), and piles of plastics, metals, and other non-compostable trash.
Sadly, much of Peninsula’s decrepit state seems to have been caused by contaminants left in the compost supplied to it by New York City. One of the reasons the operation was initially chosen was that it allowed certain plastics, such as trash can liners, to be included along with compostable materials, making it easier for the city to encourage New Yorkers to adopt composting behaviors.
So what does this all mean for the future of NYC’s composting program? For now, it sounds like some of our organic waste will be rerouted to smaller composting operations, while the rest, unfortunately, will be headed for landfills.
Even though the city composting program seems to have a lot of problems, there are not-for-profit composting ventures that are doing well, like the Lower East Side Ecology Center program, which collects food waste at six different locations in lower Manhattan. Residents can drop their compost off on weekdays for pickup. Read here to learn more.
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