DSNY Smart Bins make composting easier and more accessible across NYC

Today is Earth Day, and the New York Sanitation Department is boosting an initiative to encourage New Yorkers to compost certain types of garbage and help the environment.
The DSNY says city residents put out over 24 million pounds of trash on the curb in just one day -- but one-third of the trash is eligible to be composted instead.
This is why the department has been using Smart Compost Bins, which they say will keep energy costs low, while helping the environment and fight the rat crisis.
“When you take your lunch and you throw it out in the trash, it goes to a landfill where it becomes nothing and becomes greenhouse gasses. Instead, you can give it to us, where it can become either reusable soil, or renewable energy,” says DSNY Deputy Commissioner Joshua Goodman.
Smart Bins have been making their way across all five boroughs since 2021 as an add-on to the city’s curbside compost initiative.
But unlike curbside pickup, Smart Bins are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
Vivian Young is a Bronx native who takes a trip to the bin every week.
“It's a lot more convenient for me,” she says. “The way this Smart Compost works is there is an app that you can download on your phone, you open the app, and it'll tell you about different sites that are near your home. Once you reach a bin, if you're close enough, it allows you to unlock it.”
The bin locks up as soon as you dispose of your food, something Goodman says is critical to combating the rat crisis.
“Getting the rat food out of plastic bags and into secure containers is one of the major reasons to expand citywide composting … any time you use one of these bins, you are fighting rats,” he says.
Goodman says everyday New Yorkers put around 8 million pounds of compostable waste on the curb, yet the act of composting is so simple.
With Smart Bins, the proximity of a bin to a residence could be as close as a walk up the block.
The DSNY’s rule for what can be composted is, “if it grows, it throws.” This means anything from your kitchen or garden can be thrown right into a Smart Bin.
The DSNY reports that these bins have been opened over 150,000 thousand times so far.
The DSNY plans to roll out another 150 of these bins within the next year, so if you don't see one near your residence now, you may soon.