The locally based volunteer group
Haki Compost Collective (Haki)
organized and manages the Roosevelt Island Food Scrap Drop Off Site located
every Saturday in front of the Rivercross buiiding next to the Farmers
Last Sunday, Haki brought a group of Roosevelt Island residents to the
Big Reuse Queensbridge Compost Processing Center
on Vernon B’lvd under the Queensboro Bridge for a tour to see how the food
collected on Roosevelt Island
are turned into compost.
Haki volunteer Danika Lam reports:
During our most recent field trip to the Queensbridge Compost Processing Site,
and his trusty sidekick Rocky,
took Roosevelt Island residents along the journey their food scraps take from
fully formed corn cob and pineapple crown to nutrient-rich compost. Top of
mind in the discussion was, of course, the looming eviction at the hands of
I arrived late for the tour but Big Reuse Compost Manager Lou and Rocky gave
me a tour of the Compost Facility too.
After the tour, Lou reported that NYC Parks Department plans to evict
Big Reuse from the site at the end of June.
Ms Lam adds:
The Queensbridge Compost Processing Site is absolutely vital to composting
on Roosevelt Island.
It is only thanks to our partnership with Big Reuse that Haki Compost
Collective was able to bring back our community’s food scrap drop-off site
in September 2020 and collect the high volume of food scraps that residents
contribute every Saturday–over 1,000 pounds and growing.
Local community composting sites make the most sense in terms of logistics,
sustainability, and community education and engagement. The City should be
expanding community composting, not evicting our world-class processing
According to Green Roosevelt Island Neighbors (GRIN) founder Anthony Longo:
BIG Reuse makes, by far, the best use of that small space under the bridge.
They built something of value for the neighborhood, for the city and for the
earth. The compost site should be used as the blueprint for how to compost in
an urban setting. It is self-serving and short sighted for the Parks
department to continue eviction threats. They have blatantly disrespected the
people who do this important work as they try to push for their parking lot
with hypocritical justifications. There is nothing they, or anyone else, can
put in that spot that is more valuable then the BIG reuse Compost site.
and iDig2Learn founder Christina Delfico supports composting efforts by Big
Making the conscious action of collecting your food scraps each week and
dropping them for the compost program could eliminate 1/3 of NYC’s waste
stream. Of every sustainable action available to individuals this is one where
the outcome is known because that valuable compost returns to our neighborhood
landscapes, gardens and houseplants, but you need a place to process it like
The Big Reuse Queensbridge Compost Processing Facility
serves Queens and Brooklyn neighborhood food scrap programs
in addition to Roosevelt Island.
I asked the NYC Parks Department:
According to Big Reuse, NYC Parks intends to evict Big Reuse from the
facility at the end of June so the Parks Department can use the space for
vehicle parking. At the end of last December, Big Reuse was given a 6 month
extension to stay until June 2021 but since that time there has been no
discussion or negotiations between Big Reuse and the Parks Department about
the Queensbridge Compost facility.
Does the Parks department intend to evict Big Reuse from Queensbridge
Why does Parks department want to evict Big Reuse from the facility?
Has there been any discussion or negotiation between Parks and Big Reuse to
extend their agreement for Compost facility beyond June 2021.
Or find a suitable alternative site?
If not, why no discussion on subject?
A NYC Parks Department spokesperson replied:
We are ardent supporters of composting to support the sustainable management
of parks across our system. In accordance with the 2014 decision in Raritan
Baykeeper v. City of New York, we are working to bring composting in our
parks up to date by ensuring only park waste is processed on parkland,
rather than including consumer and regional waste.
Here is link to the December 20, 2013 Raritan decision cited by the NYC Parks Department and December 18,2020 Parks
Department press release on subject.
supporting the Parks Department extending license agreement with Big Reuse for
the Queensbridge Compost Processing Center.
Yesterday, Big Reuse reported:
was just introduced, at the state level, to clarify that community
composting is an acceptable use of Parks land. Makes sense
right? Our site makes compost with Parks’ leaves to use in
Parks utilizing public support and volunteers.
- If you are part of an organization that supports community
composting – please sign on this
ASAP!!Also – NYC Bar Association
issued a statement supporting our community compost sites
and our ability to stay on Parks land!
There has been a lot of other composting news over the last month
– Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the gradual return of curbside
composting through a
brand new opt in curbside compost program
and the expansion of the current
Food Scrap Drop Offs
program to 200 sites. Big Reuse currently collects from 40
of the drop offs.
Unfortunately – Parks still has not renewed our license for our
Queenboro Bridge community composting site, which expires June 30
– in 40 days! And our sites provide a large % of the
composting utilized by the Food Scrap Drop Offs. Look for
more ways you can help us stay shortly!
Also, Parks is still pushing out Lower East Side Ecology Center
from their community composting site. Big Reuse continues to
work with an amazing coalition of organizations –
Save Our Compost Coalition
to fight to save NYC community composting sites.
The main rationale Parks legal counsel has offered for evicting
composting sites from parkland is that community composting of
residential food waste was not allowed under state “alienation”
public trust doctrine, which states parkland can not be used for
non park purposes. Our sites compost Park’s leaves provides;
compost to Parks, street trees, and community gardens; and
activate hundreds of volunteers annually – we feel our sites were
not alienation of Park land.
NYC Bar Association
letter and action at State Legislature seek to correct Parks
erroneous interpretation of alienation.
Stay tuned for more.