Waste Diversion in New York City

Freshkills Park Walking Tour

Arturo Romua leads an activity during a walking tour at Freshkills Park.

As Freshkills Park develops from the world’s largest landfill into a sustainable urban park, New York City is working towards sending zero waste to landfills by the year 2030. This 0x30 Initiative is under the April 2015 initiative known as One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City (OneNYC).

Under the jurisdiction of the New York Department of Sanitation, the NYC Compost Project offers workshops and educational materials to provide New Yorkers with the general knowledge on waste reduction and diversion via composting. Arturo Romua, Environmental Education Coordinator at Freshkills Park, is learning about the science and application of composting via the Master Composting Certificate Program.

“Working as an environmental educator and sharing the transformative history of Freshkills Park with students constantly enlightens my perception of the relationship humans have with the environment,” Arturo said. “When I came across the certificate program, I thought it was a great resource to improve my understanding of recycling efforts undertaken within NYC.”

As the Environmental Education Coordinator, Arturo is able to share his knowledge of composting with students through school field trips, class presentations, and library workshops.  He hopes that creates a ripple effect, extending to reach the students’ friends and family members. “Students don’t often realize that composting is a form of recycling,” he said.  “Composting is very important as it is a way to prevent our food scraps from entering landfills.  Via composting, our food scraps create a nutrient-rich soil product that can be used in NYC community gardens and street trees.”


Participants of the NYC Compost Project Master Composter Certificate Program, hosted by the Lower East Side Ecology Center, visit Brotherhood/Sister Sol to assist with their composting efforts.

Approximately 30% of the NYC household waste stream is comprised of organic material such as food scrap and yard waste. Certain kinds of food scraps can be taken to NYC drop-off sites for processing, and a pilot organics collection program now serves thousands of residents. In the next few years, the 0x30 Initiative aims to implement a better solid waste management plan as defined by offering single-stream recycling, reducing the use of plastic bags, and expanding the organic collection, textile recycling and electronic waste programs. The 0x30 Initiative is a guiding movement calling for better policy enactments in order to create a greener New York City today and tomorrow.

“The foundation of Freshkills Park is comprised of 150 million tons of household waste accumulated over 53 years,” Arturo concludes. “That fact really resonates with me. It makes us broadly think of ways to improve our environmental actions each and every day.”

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