The CWG-C recommends that the City support composting at multiple scales, through multiple methods, encouraging composting in neighborhoods and households and through a farmers market drop-off, in addition to implementing citywide pickup. In doing so, the City could reduce the amount of waste going to landfill using resources and systems that are already in place. Initiatives at the neighborhood scale will encourage disposals reduction at minimal cost, saving money on tipping fees. Such a decentralized system provides residents with many options for how to reduce fees in a PAYT system or to avoid fines for disposal noncompliance.


Specific Recommendations

  • Transfer specific, city-owned, vacant lots to neighborhood organizations for neighborhood-scale compost piles
  • Encourage organics drop-off at the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market and participating Capital District Community Gardens' sites by providing information on the City of Troy website
  • Partner with and promote local compost and agriculture organizations running collection and composting projects
  • Provide resources for backyard composting, such as guidelines and compost bins.

3.5.1 Vacant Lots


The CWG-C recommends that the city support neighborhood-scale composting by transferring ownership of specific city-owned vacant lots to neighborhood associations and community organizations for self-managed composting. These lots should be strategically located in or near gardens (public and private) so as to help close the resource loop and decrease the travel between compost pile and end usage. The City of Troy website can provide a directory of compost piles open to receiving household organics. Access to composting sites will be essential when the City implements a PAYT system or strongly enforces mandatory recycling and composting, as residents will have a financial incentive to compost their food scraps. These sites will require frequent visits by the Recycling and Composting Coordinator to ensure code compliance. Current code regarding backyard composting practices requires a 5 foot setback from property lines in residential zones, and a 3-foot setback elsewhere, out of concern for rodents and odor[1].


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Figure 3.4.1: Map of city-owned vacant lots in North Central Troy as of November 2012

The City of Troy currently (as of Dec 2012) owns 50 vacant lots. The CWG-C recommends working with TNAC to identify neighborhood associations and community groups that will assume ownership and responsibility of strategic lots on which to build and maintain compost bins. These lots should be located in close proximity to existing gardens and/or landscaping, storm-water management, or erosion prevention needs.

Composting facilities/sites that accept no more than 1,000 cubic yards of source-separated organic waste per year are exempted from the NYS DEC's permitting requirement. (NYS Environmental Conservation Law 360-5.3. http://www.dec.ny.gov/regs/4411.html)

Figure 3.5.2: Building a neighborhood compost bin
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Bin Building at the Food Cycle lot
in North Central Troy
Lining the Bin with Hay at the Food Cycle lot
in North Central Troy
Transition Troy building a compost pile
at Oakwood Community Center

Similar community-run composting systems are in place elsewhere. At the Action Communiterre Garden in Montreal, Quebec, neighbors wishing to drop off food scraps pay an annual $5 "key" fee. The fee covers the cost of paying compost supervisors who check and maintain all Action Communiterre bins. Gardeners apply finished compost from the bins to the adjacent gardens to amend the soil with the nutrient-rich fertilizer[2].

The Radix Center’s Community Compost Initiative (CCI) in Albany provides organics containers for $20, weekly organics pickup at $15 per month for one container, and $5 per month for each additional container. Each week, customers leave out their containers and the CCI collects the contents to be composted at the Radix Center[3].

Revolution Compost in Burlington, Vermont provides a similar service, providing bicycle pickup of organics material from households and businesses, composting them at Green Mountain Compost[4]. See figure 3.5.3 for images of these systems.

A similar service business is in the formative stage as a collaborative effort between Troy Bike Rescue and Collard City Growers in North Central Troy. While the compost and garden sites and TBR headquarters are located in North Central, Food Cycle will be a service offered to residents and businesses throughout the City of Troy. Food Cycle anticipates launching with its first round of clients in the Spring of 2013. Initial funding for beginning infrastructure of Food Cycle was realized through an online crowd-sourcing campaign completed in the summer of 2012.

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Figure 3.5.3: Advertisement for Food Cycle

Figure 3.5.4: Community-based composting systems
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3-Bin System at an Action Communiterre Garden, Montreal, Quebec.
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Radix Center's Community Compost Initiative, Albany, NY
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Revolution Compost, Burlington, VT
Member-owned, year-round organic material pick-up by bicycle.

3.5.2 Organics Drop-Offs


The Troy Waterfront Farmers Market is in support of including an organics drop-off station at the weekly farmers market. The collected materials could then be taken to local gardens or composting facilities, or to local farms. By encouraging Market shoppers to bring their food scraps to the market and collecting food waste generated at the market itself, this system could collect organic materials at a minimal cost and using minimal labor. Compostable materials could be collected from participating vendors as well.

Community groups and garden/compost organizations, such as the Green Greeks and Transition Troy, could work together in orchestrating this weekly or monthly effort. A farmers market drop-off site will create a networking and education opportunity as well. The CWG-C recommends that the City include information on a farmers market drop-off station on the website and in publicly available municipal solid waste information.

Similar farmers market drop-off systems have been in place in New York City starting as early as 1993. Currently, the NYC Compost Project Local Organics Recovery Program (ORP) operates 22 greenmarket drop-off sites through BIG!NYC, Earth Matter NY, and the New Amsterdam Market, and the NYC Department of Sanitation facilitates 16 dropoff sites in partnership with GrowNYC[5].

Figure 3.5.5: Greenmarket drop-off
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An NYC resident deposits scraps
in a DSNY bin at a Green Markets site.
The Troy Waterfront Farmer's Market
would make an optimal site for food
scraps drop-off.

From the six drop-off sites operated by the Western Queens Composting Initiative (a program of BIG!NYC) the organization collects 18,000 pounds of food scraps per month, which they mix with wood chips on-site and distribute to compost sites and community gardens for composting and processing. See figure 3.5.5 for images of this process.

Figure 3.5.6: Western Queens Compost Initiative greenmarket drop-off.
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WQCI volunteers mix food scraps with food chips before transporting it to composting facilities.
WQCI volunteers bag up processed food scraps.
WQCI volunteers and employees then transport it to community gardens and community compost facilities in Queens.

3.5.3 // Partnerships


Several community groups and agriculture projects in Troy are equipped to receive and compost residential food scraps. The CWG-C recommends that the City provide information about these composting opportunities on the website and through publicly available municipal solid waste information.

Extant organizations that currently compost and/or provide education on composting include: Capital District Community Gardens, Food Cycle, Transition Troy, and the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

3.5.4 Backyard Composting


At the household scale, food scraps and yard waste composting is quick to implement and easy to maintain. The CWG-C recommends that the City support the implementation of these systems, by providing guidelines for backyard composting on the Troy website, and selling or distributing compost bins. Advice on setting up this support system could come from Transition Troy's Composting Working Group, CDCG Garden Educators, CCE's Master Composter and Recycler program, Food Cycle participants, and other community members well-versed in backyard composting. The City can further support backyard and neighborhood-scale composting by making woodchips from tree debris available to citizens at the Alamo, expanding its hours of operation. General residential yard waste has a higher likelihood of contaminants such as foreign objects (litter) or grass clippings from chemically-treated lawns, but is still useful for non-agricultural application. DPW will cooperate in separating trees and their limbs from general yard waste that includes grass clippings and leaves for the purposes of providing woodchips for backyard composting.

Figure 3.5.7: Backyard composting systems.
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Trench composting can enrich garden soil with minimal effort
Backyard static piles are easy to construct and maintain.



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Figure 3.5.8: The two styles of composter available through the MassDEP grant program.

Some locales offer modern composting devices that make at-home composting simple. For example, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection(MassDEP) makes home composting bins available to cities and towns each year through its recycling equipment grant program.

Two styles of compost bins are available through the MassDEP grant program: Earth Machine and New Age Composter. Both are easy to assemble, rodent-resistent and allow for efficient aerobic composting. They are made from a minimum of 50 percent post-consumer recycled plastic collected or processed in Massachusetts.

An average household can compost between 500 and 1,000 pounds of organic material each year in one of these bins, producing a rich soil supplement out of material that would otherwise be thrown away[6].

Other sources of backyard composting information include:

Capital District Community Gardens
40 River Street
Troy, NY 12180
(518) 274-8685

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Materials Management Bureau of Waste Reduction & Recycling
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-7253
(518) 402-8706

Rensselaer County Cooperative Extension Office
61 State Street
Troy, NY 12180
(518) 272-4210



[1] Len Welcome (Office of the City Engineer, Troy DPW) email to Sheree CA, January 2013.
[2] For more information see the Action Communiterre website:
http://www.actioncommuniterre.qc.ca/en/home
[3] Fore more information see the Radix Center website: http://radixcenter.org/231-2/
[4] For more information see the One Revolution website: www.onevt.com
[5] For more information about greenmarket dropoff sites in New York City, see http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/compost/compostproj_orp_program.shtml#orp
[6] For more information, see: http://www.mass.gov/dep/recycle/reduce/compgnt.htm