Photos: Salim, Stacie Joy and Garth Johnston
Over the past week, the Sanitation Department has been placing the orange, solar-powered compost drop-off bins (aka Smart Bins) on sidewalks around the East Village and Lower East Side.
This is part of the city's ongoing effort to expand organic waste collection. Residents can access the curbside bins 24/7 through one of two smartphone apps. (The apps include a map with all the bin locations.)
So why the hassle of a QR code? Curbed explains:
This extra step is an effort to prevent contamination — or when non-compostable materials wind up with organics in the containers. (The issue of mixed materials became such a problem for the street recycling program that DSNY removed many of those bins entirely.) When it comes to the Smart Bin, the agency believes that the app offers just the right amount of friction."We want the bins to be simple enough so that people passing it on the street look at it and immediately know what it is," says sanitation commissioner Jessica Tisch. The city also, crucially, wants this piece of its composting program to succeed, and that means keeping busted umbrellas and the errant tall boy out of the bins.
The bins are meant to complement the existing drop-off composting sites, such as at the Tompkins Square Park Greenmarket, the Down to Earth Garden on 12th Street, and La Plaza Cultural on Avenue C and Ninth Street. (There's a citywide map here.)
Smart Bins have been spotted on Avenue B at 12th Street, First Avenue at Fourth Street, and Second Street at Second Avenue. (There are more! But you get the idea.) those Big Belly Solar trash cans.
The Smart Bins first debuted in 2021 in Lower Manhattan and Astoria. This City Limits piece has more background.
Composting will reportedly be mandatory by October 2024, thanks to the recent passage of the Zero Waste Act.
Thank you to everyone who sent in photos of the bins!