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NYC School Organics Collection

In the 2013-2014 school year, over 300 schools in Staten Island, Manhattan, and Brooklyn are participating in Organics Collection, an important new cafeteria and kitchen program from the NYC Department of Education and Department of Sanitation.  The goal is to collect the organic material from school cafeterias and kitchens, in order to reduce the waste NYC sends to costly landfills – saving NYC taxpayer money and benefitting our environment.

Organics Collection requires students to sort recyclables and separate food waste prior to dismissal from the cafeteria.  SchoolFood staff will separate organic material during food preparation in the kitchen.  All organic material is placed in special bins that will be provided to schools, and will be collected nightly by the Department of Sanitation in dedicated food waste trucks and transported to commercial facilities. This system requires no on-site composting, and the use of these bins reduces problems with vermin.

To find out if your school is participating, visit: 
NYC DOE Sustainability Initiative.

Visit to learn more. Contact GrowNYC's School Recycling staff or with any questions.

Organics Collection Overview  NYC schools are required to recycle by law, but 40 percent of a school's waste is organic material that can be turned into compost for gardens, trees, and parks, or made into energy.  Download the handouts below to engage and update faculty, staff, custodians, and SchoolFood employees.    

> Faculty, Parents Handout - One Page (PDF)
> Custodians, SchoolFood - Half Page (PDF)

Guide to Organics Collection Separating waste after meals in school is a positive habit for students of all ages.  Download the guides below to find out how your school can setup cafeteria recycling and organics collection, and how the program benefits everyone in your school.   

> Cafeteria Setup Guide (PDF)
> Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
> P.S. 316 BK Instructional Video

Signs & Posters  Clearly labeled recycling and trash bins are critical to a succesful recycling program.  All NYC schools can click the link below to order free recycling signs, posters, and other resources from the NYC Department of Sanitation. Schools participating in Organics Collection can also order additional signage. 

> Order Free Recycling Resources
> Instructions for Posting Signs to Bins (PDF)

Faculty Resources Teachers and staff play a key role in educating and supporting Organics Collection.  Dowload the presentation below to galvenize support from faculty and staff, and realize ways to educate and involve students in improving participation in recycling and Organics Collection.

> Faculty & Staff Presentation (Powerpoint)
> Faculty & Staff Handout - Half Page (PDF)
> Faculty & Staff Handout - One Page (PDF)

Elementary Student Resources   Students learn the value of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle from an early age.  Extend that learning and leadership from the classroom to the cafeteria with recycling and Organics Collection.  The resources below will help you educate and involve elementary students.  

> Handout with Game (PDF)
> Presentation (Powerpoint)
> Cafeteria Monitors Guide (PDF)
> Step it Up! (Video on Vimeo)
P.S. 316 BK Instructional Video

Middle & High School Student Resources  Separating recycling and organics after meals is easy and can provide older students with opportunities for peer to peer education and civic outreach.  Student's actions in the cafeteria connect easily to Core Curriculum standards. 

> Middle School Student Handout (PDF)
> High School Student Handout (PDF)
> MS/HS Presentation (Powerpoint)
Cafeteria Monitors Guide (PDF)
> Step it Up! (Video on Vimeo)
> P.S. 316 BK Instructional Video