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City Expanding Organic Waste Collection Program This Fall

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Starting this fall, this city says it will begin expanding its organic waste collecting program to neighborhoods in all five boroughs, in the hopes of diverting 30 percent of the city's waste from landfills by 2017. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.

The Bloomberg administration has already stepped in to set some rules on what New Yorkers can eat, and now it is rolling out a plan to handle what they throw out when they are done eating.

The city says that with this initiative it is hoping to divert 30 percent of its food waste from landfills by 2017. That waste could be composted and used for fertilizer, and even converted to natural gas.

However, some residents in Astoria and Long Island City are turning their noses up at the thought of using city-provided bins and plastic bags to store their food scraps separate from regular garbage.

Some homeowners said they do not have the space to store compost materials in addition to the paper, metal and plastic they already have to recycle.

"I don't want to have anything piling up in my apartment," one resident said.

"These kitchens, I mean, knowing the apartments in Astoria, they're not so big," said another.

But not every one is sour on the program, which is voluntary now but could become mandatory down the road. Building superintendent Jose Andrate said he loves the idea, but he not sure how many tenants will comply.

"The main thing is the tenants, they don't recycle, so it's going to be a lot of work for the superintendents around the city," Andrate said.

Officials are looking to hire a composting plant to handle 100,000 tons of food scraps, about 10 percent of the city's food waste.

A pilot program has been underway since earlier this year in some Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island locations.

"Right now it's at 90 schools. There are 3,500 homes on Staten Island that are doing this recycling and we've seen a terrific participation rate, more than 40 percent in the first month. And we've done some high-rise buildings in Manhattan," said Deputy Mayor Caswell Holloway.

The city is hoping 100,000 residences will participate by year's end.

Many Staten Island residents said the program has its pros and cons, like the size of the container and the sometimes foul odor.

"I think it's well worth it for the purpose of it. What I don't like is the little container that sits on my counter top. I think it's unattractive and kind of gross," said a Staten Island.

Despite its drawbacks, many like the plan, and city officials hope it can work throughout the five boroughs.

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