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New York City will eliminate community composting programs when budget cuts go into effect

NYC community composting program could be shut down due to budget cuts
NYC community composting program could be shut down due to budget cuts 01:57

NEW YORK -- New York City could shut down a community composting program because of budget cuts.

Inside a community garden and compost site in Queens, gardener Daniel Wendlek explains, "Composting is turning your waste into a resource ... A resource for plants and animals."

According to GrowNYC, 8.3 million pounds of food scraps and yard waste is collected across the five boroughs and composted a year.

In Sunnyside, 300 pounds are collected and converted a week.

"We collect food scraps at food scrap drop-offs, so you partner with community gardens and other organizations. They'll set up bins, folks in the community will come drop off their food scraps," said Bella Ravinovich, with Big Reuse.

But on Jan. 1, after city budget cuts, farmers markets and community gardens in New York City that collect food scraps from New Yorkers will have to stop.

The city is eliminating all community composting projects.

"It's very possible without the funding from Department of Sanitation, I'll lose my job," Ravinovich said. "That's really devastating and sad to think about."

The rollout for the city's compost pickup, with bins for residents to discard food waste, will also be delayed in the Bronx and on Staten Island.

"Community compost becomes soil that we put in our parks and our community, and they take millions of tons of food waste and make into dirt again," Assemblymember Harvey Epstein said. "If we don't take the food waste out of our garbage stream, we are going to continue to have a climate change crisis."

Eepstein has been composting for over 20 years. He says the city shouldn't eliminate all funding for programs.

Dozens at a "Save Our Compost" rally at City Hall Park on Thursday called on the mayor to reconsider the composting cuts.

The mayor's office tells CBS New York the cuts are necessary and citywide curbside composting will be in all neighborhoods by next October.

In the meantime, the sanitation department says there are 400 smart composting bins across the city residents can drop their scraps off to.

"Environmentally, this is going to be pretty devastating," Ravinovich said.

Advocates say there is an online petition to save community composting, so far there are over 30,0000 signatures.

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