- New York's Department of Sanitation (DSNY) recently issued a request for proposals for a new $34 million contract to run three city-owned composting operations starting in July 2018. The contractor would be tasked with the full operation and maintenance of these sites, along with the development of a sales and marketing plan for finished material. The anticipated contract term is five years, with the option for two three-year extensions.
- The 33-acre Staten Island Compost Facility is the largest of the three. It accepts food and yard waste from both commercial and organic sources, with plans for expansion. The 12-acre Soundview Compost Facility in the Bronx only accepts yard waste and will continue to do so. The 1.6-acre Rikers Island Compost Facility accepts food waste from the eponymous correctional facility.
- The RFP also includes a section about potential contractors being expected to help assess, survey and prepare new prospective city-owned composting facilities. When Waste Dive asked if this meant plans were underway for new facilities, DSNY said the city "wants to be prepared if the opportunity presents itself," but that there were no potential sites at this time.
All of these facilities have been operating for many years, showing that organics processing has played a role in DSNY's diversion work long before the more recent boom in food waste collection that started around 2013. The Staten Island facility has been handling leaf and yard waste since 1991, Rikers has been turning food scraps into compost for the island since 1998 and Soundview has been accepting Christmas trees since 1999. The Staten Island facility has also begun accepting food scraps from the city's curbside and farmers market collection programs in recent years. After the second phase of a planned renovation is complete it could eventually take commercial food scraps.
The city's current contract with WeCare Organics started in 2015 and the company has been working with DSNY for multiple years prior to that renewal. Last year, the company was also selected for a $6.6 million contract to pre-process and compost other food scraps from DSNY's curbside collection program. Given their experience with the city's operations WeCare may be favored to continue in its current role. Though as shown by fluctuations in revenue from compost and mulch at the Staten Island facility, the city may also want to try a new approach.
This one contract may seem small in the grand scheme of DSNY's admittedly ambitious efforts to achieve "zero waste" by 2030. Compared to the millions of tons of refuse being shipped out of the city for hundreds of millions of dollars per year it is. During 2016, all three facilities combined processed a little more than 30,500 tons of material. The potential for this new contract to create highly desired capacity for commercial organics on Staten Island, and maybe even lead to new DSNY-owned composting facilities in the future, is what makes it interesting to watch.