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DEC declares May 5-11 Compost Awareness Week in New York

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Fri, May 3rd 2019 08:20 pm

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced New York State Compost Awareness Week is May 5-11. The goal, a press release stated, is “to bring attention to the environmental benefits of composting, and celebrate the significant victory in the 2019-20 state budget to establish a new food waste program that maximizes the donation of unused food; expands the availability of composting; and diverts food waste from landfills.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared May 5-11 New York State Compost Awareness Week in a proclamation.

“New Yorkers are leaders in sustainability and effectively managing and recycling the waste we generate, but there is always an opportunity to do more,” Seggos said. “New York took a huge step in the recent state budget by creating a new organics recycling program for large-scale food waste, and now we need to increase the number of individuals who compost to help us further reduce our dependence on landfills and protect the planet from harmful methane emissions. I encourage all New Yorkers to consider composting as a way to protect our resources and lessen the impacts of climate change.”

The press release also stated, “Recycling food scraps, grass, leaves, yard clippings and other organic materials through composting reduces the state’s dependence on landfills that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and produces valuable, nutrient-rich compost that improves soil health and water quality.”

New York State Compost Awareness Week is an opportunity to recognize the benefits of composting and to promote composting organics from homes, businesses, schools and more. Organic materials make up approximately 30 percent of the municipal waste stream. DEC estimates more than 3 million tons of food scraps are disposed in landfills or managed in combustors each year.

“Landfills create methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that can cause harm to the atmosphere if not properly controlled. Conversely, when food scraps and other organic materials are composted, no methane is produced. Composting returns organic matter to the soil, improving the health of the soils, conserving water, and decreasing erosion.”

Today, more than 700,000 tons of organic material each year are processed in compost facilities across the state, including large regional composting facilities and small compost piles at schools and outside resident’s homes. Yard trimmings, including leaves and grass, are the most commonly accepted materials at compost facilities. More recently, some composting facilities have begun accepting food scraps, and others are exploring the possibility. Many gardeners have long recognized the benefits of composting their food scraps and other organics to boost their soils and reduce the use of fertilizer and pesticides. In addition, compost can be used as a mulch around plantings to hold in moisture and prevent weeds from growing.

New York state took a significant step in the 2019-20 budget to help fight climate change and boost food donation with the Food Donation and Food Scrap Recycling Act, which launches a new organics recycling program. The measure requires many of the state's largest generators of food waste to separate food scraps into wholesome food that can be donated to those in need and food to be transported for organics recycling, such as through composting.

For additional information, visit DEC’s organics recycling webpage at https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/8798.html.

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