Hygiene department installs more than a dozen “smart bins” for food waste in Astoria



The smart bins are an upgrade of typical waste bins for food scraps, as shown here (DSNY).

13 Dec 2021 by Allie Griffin

The New York City Sanitation Department has installed more than a dozen special “smart bins” for food scraps throughout Astoria.

The department placed 16 trash cans – which only open with a specific key card – in the neighborhood last week to divert compostable waste from landfills.

The smart bins are part of a pilot program for residential buildings in which compostable materials and food scraps are dispensed around the clock. A similar pilot took off from Lower Manhattan last week.

The containers are locked and can only be opened with a key card by residents who register for the pilot.

According to DSNY, up to a third of the 12,000 tons of trash and recycling that plumbing workers collect in the city every day can be composted. When organic materials are disposed of in a landfill, they emit methane and contribute to climate change instead of becoming nutrient-rich soil when properly composted.

The pilot is part of DSNY’s effort to increase composting in New York City. The department also offers community-based drop-off points for leftover food – which aren’t open 24/7 – and roadside brown bin composting in residential buildings.

“DSNY is committed to getting compostable material out of landfills,” said DSNY Commissioner Edward Grayson. “We are excited to see how these new trash cans behave, and encourage everyone who lives or works near a trash can to try them out.”

Compostable items that can be placed in the smart bins include all food waste – including meat, bones, dairy products, eggshells, coffee grounds tea bags, and soiled or expired food – as well as food-stained paper products and dead house plants and flowers.

The DSNY will empty the smart bins and transport the organic waste to local and regional composting facilities, where it will be processed into compost on a large scale. The finished compost is then used in New York parks and gardens. Some of the organic waste is converted into renewable energy.

Non-compostable items such as regular trash (including animal waste and diapers) and recyclable items should never be placed in the smart bins.

Residents can register by filling out their information on smartcompost.nyc. After completing a form, a free key card will be sent to you by post to the address provided within one to two weeks.

The smart bins are primarily located along 31st Avenue and the surrounding blocks. The map below shows their exact locations.

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