The nonprofit environmental group Big Reuse, which operates the site, has composted more than one million pounds of organic waste per year, taking food scraps, leaves and other materials and reusing them to improve the soil for local parks, community gardens and trees.
More importantly, in the global fight against climate change, composting diverts waste from landfills, which then keeps methane out of the atmosphere.
Unfortunately, not only has New York City suspended its curbside composting program due to budget cuts, but the site under the Queensboro Bridge is being evicted by June.
Big Reuse’s lease with the Parks Department actually ended on December 31, 2020, but the agency gave the group a six-month extension to give them time to find an alternate space for their composting activities.
The city intends to use the lot for their own operations instead. A nearby parcel of parkland that the department used for operations, which is part of Queensbridge Baby Park, will soon undergo an $11 million renovation for recreational use.
But Big Reuse is intent on staying, highlighting to community members, local elected officials and environmental advocates the importance of the composting site. Given that the city has put composting on the back burner, residents have few options to drop off their food scraps and other organic waste.
There’s no question that having this composting facility in Queens is valuable. The impact of Big Reuse’s work, particularly on climate change, outweighs the Parks Department’s need for operational space, especially when they can find other places to accommodate. Big Reuse has even asked the department to use their space more efficiently.
The alternative is that Big Reuse, with the help of the city, finds another lot that can adequately host the same composting activities and is still accessible to local residents. But until they can find another space that’s as good as their current lot under the Queensboro Bridge, the Parks Department should let them stay.