Statement on NYC Community Composting Budget Cuts

Date: 28 Nov 2023 | posted in: Composting | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

For media inquiries, please contact: Reggie Rucker, ILSR Communications Director

(November 28, 2023) – Brenda Platt, Director of the Composting for Community Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), made the following statement on the New York City Mayor’s Office budget cuts that promise to eliminate the community composting program: 

“The Mayor’s budget cuts are a devastating blow to New York City’s organics recycling infrastructure. Every year, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers benefit from the environmental education, local jobs, healthy local food, and greener, more beautiful neighborhoods that community composters provide. Before the City was clued into the importance of composting, these same operations were the ones that made sure that their communities had an alternative to burning or burying wasted food. 

“The NYC Compost Project has long served as a model for local government support for community composting, showing that the two can work in tandem to reduce waste while maintaining a commitment to equity and community service. This recent decision throws that decades-long partnership away. And, it will have serious consequences for the community composters left in the lurch, who will have to deal with half-finished projects and a severely limited operating capacity. 

“While the City’s new plans for dealing with organic materials continue to hit roadblocks and generate controversy, community composting remains its greenest solution to managing wasted food. In fact, without the outreach and education provided by community composters, successful adoption of curbside composting is itself in jeopardy.

“The six community composting sites facing the chopping block do much more than divert millions of pounds of food scraps from landfills. Through education and leadership training, they seed dozens of other community composting projects throughout New York City, fostering healthy soils, climate resiliency, gathering spaces, social inclusion, and empowerment. The Queens Botanical Garden’s program alone supported composting at more than 36 community sites from churches and gardens to universities and vacant lots.

“We strongly urge the Mayor and City Council to halt these short-sighted cuts and commit to long-term funding of the NYC Compost Project and GrowNYC. Indeed, we call for expanding funding to community composting projects in the city.”


Clarissa Libertelli, coordinator of the national Community Composter Coalition with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (and a Brooklyn resident), also weighed in on the budget cuts:

“These cuts come at a time when the climate crisis is becoming an increasingly scary reality for New Yorkers. In confronting the worsening impacts of climate change–from the heat island effect to record-breaking flooding — the City needs to invest more in local composting solutions, not less. If they neglect this duty, they will have to answer to the harsh reality that the negative impacts of climate change and depleted local soils will be borne by the City’s most vulnerable residents. 

“Failing to account for the importance of community composting in building a resilient, thriving, and equitable New York, is a mistake that will ultimately cost the city more in the long run. It’s time for this to be reflected in the City’s budget. We urge for not only a reversal of the most recent budget cuts, but also a commitment to substantial long-term funding for community composting in New York City.”

If you live in New York City, sign and share the petition today to express your opposition to the Mayor’s budget cuts.


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About the Institute for Local Self-Reliance

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is a national nonprofit research and educational organization founded in 1974. ILSR has a vision of thriving, diverse, equitable communities. To reach this vision, we build local power to fight corporate control. We believe that democracy can only thrive when economic and political power is widely dispersed. Whether it’s fighting back against the outsize power of monopolies like Amazon or advocating to keep local renewable energy in the community that produced it, ILSR advocates for solutions that harness the power of citizens and communities. 

Image Credit: Queens Botanical Garden

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Follow Brenda Platt:
Brenda Platt

Brenda Platt directs ILSR's Composting for Community project.

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Follow Clarissa Libertelli:
Clarissa Libertelli

Clarissa Libertelli coordinates the Community Composter Coalition for the Composting for Community initiative, as well as provides graphic design support across all initiatives.

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Follow Jordan Ashby:
Jordan Ashby

Jordan Ashby is the Advocacy and Communications Lead for the Composting for Community Initiative, where she applies her passion for education, equity, and sustainable futures to assist with the development and execution of the communications strategy.