Reducing GHG in NYC Through Organics Collection

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1) Sustainability Problem: Organic waste in NYC

Category: Waste

2) Technology

NYC produces 14 million tons of waste every year. The single largest segment of this waste is organic refuse which releases methane gas through decomposition. In response, the city has launched a multi million dollar campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and landfill reliance by turning food scraps and yard waste into compost. The upshot is that the methane released through decomposition can be harnessed and used for fuel through the same technology we currently use to treat wastewater.

  • In 2013, NYC began handing out brown counter top buckets and large outside bins to collect organic waste. This is expected to apply to all residents by the end of 2018.
  • Organics are collected via curbside pickup on a weekly basis and trucked to a waste transfer station where compostables are separated from contaminants.
  • Compostables are then transferred to a composting site or aerobic digestion facility.
  • The city is exploring ways to retrofit wastewater treatment plants to harness the methane gas (already a byproduct of wastewater treatment) released by food waste.
  • National Grid is planning a 30 million dollar system for the Newton Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility in Brooklyn to harness the methane and use it to heat NYC by the end of 2018.

3) Organizational Stakeholders:

  • NYC Government
  • NYC Residents
  • NYC Businesses
  • NYC Waste Management
  • Newton Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility
  • National Grid

4) Deployment:

  • NYC implements brown bin organic waste collection across all city residences and businesses on a compulsory basis.
  • NYC supplies trucks and personal to collect organic waste and truck it to partnering waste transfer stations and antibiotic digestion facilities.
  • National grid rolls out compost methane-capture systems in wastewater treatment plants around NYC.


Rueb, Emily. How New York is Turning Food Waste into Compost and Gas. New York Times. June 2, 2017.


3 thoughts on “Reducing GHG in NYC Through Organics Collection

  1. Absolutely! It is this biogas (specifically methane) that National Grid plans to capture through retrofitted systems in wastewater treatment plants.


  2. This sounds like a great move for NYC and for the environment in general. In addition to decreasing the amount of waste going to landfills, a program like this would force people to be more aware of their waste, which could ultimately reduce the amount of waste generated.


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