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Understanding the Yard Waste Mandate - Big Reuse

Understanding the Yard Waste Mandate

Summer is in full swing, so you know what that means? Yard waste–and lots of it! Composting yard waste became mandatory in Queens as of June 30, 2023. For residents in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx, and Staten Island, the mandate will coincide with the start of the curbside composting program in your borough. Here’s our breakdown of the mandate:

  • Yard waste can be placed in your brown bin, your own labeled bin, or DSNY lawn + leaf bags. It’s okay to mix yard waste with your food scraps in a bin with a secure lid, but if you’re just placing yard waste in a lawn + leaf bag, leave the food scraps out to keep things pest-free, clean, and safe for Sanitation workers; food scraps should only go inside bins with lids.
  • Collection of yard waste is just like food scrap collection, so place it out after 6 pm the night before your recycling day. You can check your collection day here.
  • Yard waste includes things like leaves, grass clippings, flowers, and twigs. Large wood debris like tree limbs are not included and should be placed with regular trash in 2x4 foot bundles tied with rope or twine. 
  • Yard waste from professional landscapers is not included in the curbside composting program and must be disposed of at a commercial composting facility. 
  • After a 90 day grace period ignoring the mandate will result in fines, just like recycling. For buildings with one to eight units, the penalty for the first offense is $25, the second is $50 and any fines accrued after that are $100. For buildings with nine or more units, the fines are $100, $200, then $400 respectively. Read more here.

We know “mandate” isn’t always a fun word, but this mandate means less waste in landfills and less carbon in the atmosphere. City council passed a similar mandate for food scraps that would go into effect by 2025, and will be a critical part of achieving the goal of a zero waste New York City by 2030! Now is a great time to get into the habit of setting out your food scraps and food soiled paper along with your yard waste.

Our curbside composting outreach associates are here to help! Email compostoutreach@bigreuse.org if we can attend your community event or speak to your organization to help provide education and resources.

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