Say hello to the Department of Sanitation’s Smart Composting Bins! The eye-catching big orange receptacles were installed at several locations around the neighborhood on Monday morning. 

worker's finishing up installation of smart compost bin
Workers packing up after the installation of a smart composting bin at W43rd Street and 10th Ave. Photo: Catie Savage

While the City Council recently passed legislation to make curbside composting mandatory in New York City, Manhattan will be the last borough to receive service starting on October 7, 2024. In the meantime, DSNY has been rolling out the Big Belly Smart Composting Bins to help ease the transition to curbside collection. DSNY Press Secretary Vincent Gragnani said, “We are excited to be rolling out 150 new bins in Manhattan this month, in addition to the 250 existing bins citywide. We currently have ten bins in Hell’s Kitchen, and installation is ongoing across Manhattan.”

Food waste makes up nearly one-third of the 12,000 tons of trash and recycling that New Yorkers generate each day, and when these food scraps are left in black bags on the sidewalk, they attract rats and other vermin. By removing food waste from our trash, we will also help reduce the release of methane, a harmful greenhouse gas, from landfills and lower the $478 million annual cost of exporting our waste, some of it traveling as far as South Carolina. 

food waste next to a corner litter basket in hell's kitchen
Food waste left on the ground next to a litter basket in Hell’s Kitchen. Photo: Catie Savage

Previously, the neighborhood’s only compost drop-off sites were in Mathews-Palmer Playground and across the Westside Highway at Piers 84 and 96 in Hudson River Park. The new smart composting bins also accept meat, bones and dairy. Ready to get started on your compost journey? Here’s how to use the new bins:

  1. Download the NYC Compost app for iOS or Android. The app is free to use and does not require any sign up information to get started. When you open the app, a map will appear showing all of the available bins.
  2. To unlock a bin, you must be within a few feet of it. Once there, click on the bin you want to use and then press “Unlock Bin” to open. 
  3. Once you are done depositing your food scraps, the bin will automatically lock again. 
smart composting bin map
Map of SmartBin locations from the NYC Compost app.

The bins are available 24/7 and accept all food scraps (including meat and dairy), plant or yard waste and any food-soiled paper like greasy uncoated paper plates and pizza boxes. Do NOT put recyclable materials or trash such as diapers, personal hygiene products, animal waste, wrappers, non-paper packaging or foam products in the bins. Adding items like that will contaminate the compostable material in the bins, rendering it useless. 

smart composting bin at corner of 43rd and 9th
Smart composting bin at the southeast corner of W43rd Street and 9th Avenue. Photo: Catie Savage

The new arrivals have caused quite a stir in the neighborhood. “My husband Chris saw the bins first and rushed home to tell me about the new addition. My first reaction was, well that was fast! I’m glad that the bins with the foot pedal were used and knowing that it’s easily accessible will definitely heighten our family’s ability to compost!” remarked Sarah Mills, who headed to Instagram to post a snapshot of the bin on the southeast corner of W43rd Street and 9th Avenue.

Jill Blackford, one of the organizers of the HK Community Cupboard, said: “We’re really excited about the new smart composting bins in the neighborhood. Sometimes we need to remove expired or inedible food from the cupboard when the bins at Mathews-Palmer playground are not accessible or it’s too late to walk to the pier. This will help our volunteers and neighbors to more easily reduce food waste.” Before dropping off any items at the cupboard, take a look at their food donation guidelines to be sure you are donating wisely.

Community advocate Cat Lafferty commented, “As an environmentalist and one of the volunteer gardeners in Hell’s Kitchen Park, I am thrilled to see the new orange smart composting bin on the corner of W47th Street and 10th Avenue. Plant waste and food-soiled paper are also accepted in the bins. It is a visible way to get residents excited about composting. I hope DSNY will also provide new recycling bins for the area around Hell’s Kitchen Park to encourage people to recycle their bottles and cans and to reduce their single-use plastic consumption.”

HK Composting bin
Another smart composting bin installed outside Hell’s Kitchen Park at the northeast corner of W47th Street and 10th Avenue. Photo: Catie Savage

Will the addition of these easily accessible orange bins make you more likely to compost your food scraps? Tell us more in the comments!

Join the Conversation


  1. would compostable food packaging be okay to put in the bins too? I didn’t see it explicitly included or excluded in the app or written guidelines. Thank you! Very excited for these bins!!!

    1. Kelly, I would say to save the limited space for actual food items, or just what is listed. Otherwise, it will fill with packaging, which isn’t the intent.

    2. Yes, they encourage people to use appropriate bags. The app itself says so: “Use of bags is encouraged to minimize mess. Plastic, paper, and compostable.”

    3. This is a few days late, but I emailed DSNY about this, and they said compostable packaging is fine if it has the “BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute) Certified Compostable Logo.” I didn’t realize NYC could handle compostable packaging, since there’s very few facilities in the US that can, from what I understand. Pretty neat.

  2. I downloaded the app and there is a compost bin on my corner. I beg everyone to take advantage of this. Even if you don’t care about the environment this will help reduce rats.

  3. I already bring my food scraps to Mathews-Palmer park but happy to see I can now use these new bins for dairy, meat, etc.

  4. I think it’s great to make it more widely available. But the bin is so small? Just wonder how quickly it’ll fill up. On the plus side, it accepts compostable bags (as opposed to the Matthews Palmer park bins)

    1. A nice feature of the app is it will tell you if the bin is full, which means it can also alert DSNY when bins are full. I think there will be a bit of a learning curve depending on how many people use it, but it’s a great step towards curbside composting in 2024!

  5. The app says “Use of bags is encouraged to minimize mess. Plastic, paper, and compostable bags are all allowed.” I’m surprised plastic is ok, but they must have a way to weed out the plastic when processing it all.

    1. They have a piece of equipment called the “liberator” that removes the material from the bags at the compost facility

  6. Is there a local store anyone can recommend that sells compostable bags? Is this the best way to transport compost from home to these bins?

    1. I use a large tupperware that I keep in the fridge to reduce smell. When I take the compost out, I just carry the tupperware, empty it, then take it home to wash.

      1. I do this as well, but put them in my freezer. Once I fill up 2-3 containers I’ll go empty them at Mathews-Palmer. Now I have a bin just a block and half away so will use that!

  7. Would love to use it but the app says it’s only for iPhone! Will it include android eventually?

    1. It’s been VERY buggy on Android, so it may need a couple tries. I’ve needed my iOS friends to help on multiple occasions.

  8. I’m so glad!! I live in a huge building in West 57th and tried to get them enrolled with the program before it was paused so I’ll glad to see a bin on West 57th. Although I didn’t mind taking my compost to pier 96, this is much more convenient.

  9. What great news! And look at all these wonderful comments! My only worry is with all this centralized composting, what happens to all the good food waste Hudson River Park gets to turn into soil for its gorgeous gardens — but I guess that’s a good problem to worry about. This is a smart first step to help educate even more NYers about the ease and importance of composting. I’m a brown paper bag in the freezer person for my compost storage, because even though we work so hard to get no paper or plastic bags, sometimes we still end up with them. Happy composting!

  10. I’d think it’s still best to keep your compost as local as possible and the Hudson River Park bins at the piers will have the smallest ecological footprint of the options and keep finished compost in the neighborhood. Smart bin contents are often taken to places like Greenpoint for proprietary slurry based decomposition. (Source:

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