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New Program Allows Commuters to Drop Off Compost at Subway Stop

By Jeanmarie Evelly | February 26, 2013 3:17pm | Updated on February 27, 2013 7:19am

ASTORIA — Queens residents are getting a chance to make their morning commutes a little less wasteful. 

The Astoria-based Build It Green! NYC is sponsoring a weekly food scrap collection site outside the Broadway N and Q train station in an effort to get more residents involved in local composting.

"To try to get the commuters," said Build It Green!'s Cuyler Remick, as he manned the drop-off station Tuesday morning, where some residents had left scraps of lettuce, peppers and other vegetables in two large waste bins set up outside the subway station.

Build It Green! partners with the city's Department of Sanitation to run the NYC Compost Project Local Organics Recovery Program, operating food scrap drop-off spots throughout Western Queens, including the Steinway branch of the Queens Public Library. But the Broadway Station site is the group's first Commuter Composting Pilot.

Collection will take place on 31st Street across from Rite Aid on Tuesday mornings, from 8 to 10 a.m.

The scraps collected by the group are then processed for use by the city in public parks and gardens and also by Brooklyn Grange, which uses the compost for its rooftop farm on Northern Boulevard in Long Island City.

"It's less of a fertilizer and more of a soil amenity," Remick said. "To enrich the soil."

The site accepts waste like fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, corn cobs, egg shells, newspapers and a slew of other items for composting, though can't take any meat, dairy or cat and dog waste. Many composters store their scraps in Tupperware or zip locks bags and keep them in the freezer to avoid a smell before being dropped off, Remick said.

According to Build It Green!'s website, New York City residents throw away 650,000 tons of food a year, most of which ends up in landfills.

In his final State of the City speech earlier this month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the launch of a new composting pilot where food scraps will be picked up curbside in Staten Island, saying it currently costs the city about $100 million a year to transport food waste to landfills.