State DEC Promotes Benefits Of Composting During Week
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced that New York State Compost Awareness Week begins today. Compost Awareness Week raises awareness statewide of the environmental benefits of composting.
Recycling food scraps, grass, leaves, yard clippings, and other organic materials through composting reduces New York’s dependence on landfills and combustors and helps to lower climate-altering emissions while producing valuable, nutrient-rich compost that improves soil health and water quality. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared the week of May 2 to 8 New York State Compost Awareness Week in a proclamation.
“New Yorkers are national leaders when it comes to sustainability and effectively managing and recycling the waste we generate and compost awareness week is a valuable reminder of the actions we all can take to protect our shared environment. Increasing composting helps to reduce our dependence on landfills and protect the planet from harmful methane emissions, while simultaneously harnessing the beneficial properties of organics,” Seggos said. “I encourage all New Yorkers to consider composting, either at home or by separating organics for collection and transport to a composting facility, to help protect our resources and lessen the impacts of climate change.”
Organic materials make up approximately 30 percent of municipal waste. DEC estimates that more than three million tons of food scraps are disposed in landfills or managed in combustors each year. Landfills create methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. When food scraps and other organic materials are composted, no methane is produced. In addition, composting returns organic matter to the soil, improving soil health, conserving water, and decreasing erosion. Some of that compost penetrates deeper into the soil and helps to sequester or store carbon, further reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Composting can be rewarding, especially as many New Yorkers are spending more time at home during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Composting is another way to reconnect with the earth and create something that can help plants inside and outside the home to grow. In addition, as more people turn to home gardening to provide healthy food for themselves and their families, compost is the best amendment for garden soil.
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 homes. Yard trimmings, including leaves and grass, are the most commonly accepted materials at compost facilities. In addition, some composting facilities have begun accepting food scraps, and others are exploring doing so. Some communities have even set up drop-off locations where residents can leave their food scraps, which are later transported to a compost facility. Many gardeners have long recognized the benefits of composting their food scraps and other organics to boost 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 Compost Awareness Week is an opportunity to recognize the benefits of composting and promote composting organics from homes, businesses, and schools. For additional information visit DEC’s organics recycling webpage.