After only a short time in the pilot phase, a new composting initiative by the Department of Sanitation is finding itself at odds with test communities.
Through social media platforms, groups such as the Glendale Civic Association and the Maspeth 11378 page, locals are complaining about problems with raccoons and possums, which are prone to tamper with the bins despite DSNY’s claim that they are sealed to keep the rodent-attracting food smells inside.
Some even see the move by the city as one aimed at generating more revenue through trash tickets. While the latter of these may be somewhat harsh, the long-term problem of rodent tampering is one that needs further discussion.
This week, we spoke to representatives from Toronto, a city where composting has grown from a pilot program to a full-blown citywide initiative, and from what they tell us, the raccoon problem is a serious concern—especially with the bin design being used in our city.
Toronto learned early on that raccoons make short work of bins with latches on the top, knocking them over repeatedly until over time the latches weaken and break, at which point the bins become a serious problem.
In short, the DSNY composting program was obsolete before it was even rolled out in our city. Already, our friendly neighbors to the north have moved on to a new bin and collection system, with latches concealed on the bottom of the bins and trucks that have a mechanism for automatically opening and closing the bins on removal day.
That is why we believe the city needs to rethink the composting program in New York City before it is expanded. Lessons from other municipalities need to be learned and absorbed into any plan for continued socially conscious waste separation in our city. We need to address our waste stream, but we need to do it in a way that works for residents.