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Full of scrap! City expanding curbside composting to Williamsburg, Downtown, Southern Brooklyn

Top of the heap: Troy Herion of Prospect Heights drops off his food scraps to become compost each week at the city-subsidized Saturday farmers market at Grand Army Plaza, but not everyone is so eager to scrape their plates. The city will begin curbside organic waste pick-up in nearby Windsor Terrace next month, as part of a pilot composting program and residents we spoke to say they will not participate.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

It is the big stink!

The city is dramatically expanding its curbside composting pickup program to vast new swathes of Brooklyn over the next year — including Downtown, Williamsburg, and most of Southern Brooklyn — and some local leaders are optimistic that residents will embrace the practice of stockpiling their rotting food scraps with glee.

“I think it’s going to be a welcome addition,” said Peter Bray, the executive director of civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association. “People will have to change their habits but I think that over time they’ll adopt it and there will be strong participation.”

The program will roll out in Williamsburg in May; community boards 2 (Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill) 15 (Gerritsen Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach), and 13 (Coney Island, Brighton Beach) in June; and 7 (Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace), 11 (Bensonhurst, Gravesend) 12 (Kensington, Midwood) by fall.

The rest of the borough will have to wait until 2018.

Participants will receive a brown bin and small kitchen container for their compostable garbage, including vegetable peels, teabags, and grass cuttings.

But not everyone is thrilled. To accommodate all the new worm food, the Department of Sanitation has deployed new garbage trucks that are divided into separate sections for compost and bulk items — and Bay Ridgites have complained that they contain less room for hefty items and has resulted in junk piling up on the side of local roads.

In it to bin it: Participants in the composting programs get one of these brown bins.
Photo by Josephine Beckmann

Now some residents in the new scrap-collecting zones are terrified the same fate is coming to their streets.

“I’m fearful after reading all the stuff about Community Board 10 that I’m going to be riding up and down with mattresses sitting outside,” said Community Board 15 chairwoman Theresa Scavo.

Bay Ridge has had the program since 2014, and Community Board 7’s leader says he’s at least happy the whole district is finally going to be on the same page — even if he’s not necessarily pumped for more bins.

“I don’t know if it’s exciting, but it’s gratifying that we’re going to be one district,” said the board’s district manager Jeremy Laufer.

Greenpointers, which got the scheme in 2015, have complained that the bins made the neighborhood stink and attracted creepy crawlies, although their eco-minded neighbors in Williamsburg have been begging the city to bring the program to their area for years.

And Bray — who lives in Park Slope, which got the program in 2014 — claims smelly scraps and vermin shouldn’t be a problem so long as people keep the lids shut tight.

“I’ve never had any problem personally,” he said. “I think you take reasonable precautions — you keep the lid closed on the recycling pail that’s inside the house and do the same thing with the pail that’s on the outside.

Rotting: A map shows the new composting locations rolling out in Brooklyn.
NYC Department of Sanitation

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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