ENVIRONMENT
03/05/2014 10:17 am ET Updated Mar 05, 2014

'Compost Islands' Could Help Solve NYC's Trash Problem

Each year, New Yorkers produce more than 14 million tons of trash, which usually gets sent to landfills outside the city. Nearly 29 percent of that waste is suitable for composting, according to NYC.gov. In response to this waste management issue, an architectural firm has unveiled concept designs for a project aiming to divert compostable material away from landfills and onto a series of so-called "compost islands."

The folks over at PRESENT Architecture have come up with a preliminary plan to turn the city’s compostable waste into multi-purpose islands around each of the five boroughs. The project, called Green Loop, would have trucks haul the city’s organic waste not to landfills but to 10 multi-layered tipping and composting stations built just offshore. The space on top of these facilities would be used for elevated recreational parks.

In tune with the city’s Vision 2020 plan, an initiative to develop the city’s unused waterfronts, Green Loop offers a potential solution for curbing pollution, while also providing new public spaces.

For now, though, Green Loop is pretty far from becoming a reality. The next stage of the project consists of researching the public's interest and the project's feasibility in terms of government support and financing. The project's creators predict it will come with a hefty price tag, though exact numbers have yet to be budgeted.

“It won't be cheap, but if you consider that NYC is spending over $300 million every year to truck waste out of the city to landfills, it's possible that these facilities could start to make financial sense over time,” Evan Erlebacher and Andre Guimond, two of the project's leaders, told The Huffington Post in an email. “Especially if you begin to consider the cost to the environment from all of those truck miles. A project like this could take years to review and build, but construction of the network can be phased, so it's not all built at once.”

In case you were wondering, the project also tackles the issue of smell.

"This is an industrial processing facility, so there are multiple options for eliminating smell. Temperature, oxygen levels and composition of compost all affect odor, and these things can be monitored in an industrial facility. Composting can be done in a closed system to reduce smell, and bio-filters are also an effective way to reduce airborne odors. This kind of composting facility is very different from your average backyard compost heap," Erlebacher and Guimond said.

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NYC's Compost Islands
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