Images from Present Architecture.

The Island of Compost:

A revolutionary man-made island could be the answer to New York City’s increasing waste problem.

According to a featured project by Present Architecture, Green Loop could dramatically decrease the city’s trash. Green Loop is a “composting hub and park, and part of a larger proposal for a network of 10 waterfront composting hubs in New York City”.

The project is envisioned to have a street-level composting facility with an elevated public park on top that’s big enough to accommodate various facilities such as education buildings, gardens and so on.

“New York City has less open space per person than almost every major city in the country, and the Green Loop alleviates two major urban problems at once,” Present Architecture said on their website.

Nearly 29 percent of NYC’s residential waste is suitable for source-separated composting, according to NYC Recycles. These including waste such as yard trimmings, food wastes, and compostable paper. Another 12 percent consists of food and other organic materials also suitable for composting at an industrial scale.

New York City produces over 14 million tonnes of trash each year. Most of the waste is trucked long-haul to out-of-state landfills.

“In a typical year, we spend more than $300 million dollars on trash transport while incurring a hefty environmental bill along the way,” Present Architecture said. “We send trucks millions of miles every year, creating traffic, noise pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. All of this so that our waste can be landfilled, where it then rots and creates even more greenhouse gas. It’s a big dirty problem.”

The network of Green Loops is set along New York City’s 520 miles of waterfront. It is designed to address several issues including the delivery of waste to a shorter distance.

the island of compost

Also, having a composting hub in each borough addresses borough equity wherein every borough is responsible for processing its own waste instead of sending the whole city’s trash to just one site.

Finally, the Green Loop project links with the city’s Vision 2020: Comprehensive Waterfront Plan. “It’s steadily improving public access and developing the waterfront with parks, esplanades and bike paths. A network of Green Loops links into our developing shoreline.”

The proposal is designed to create a network of composting parks processing the city’s organic waste while adding 125 acres of public park land.

“This means drastically reduced truck miles to landfills, decreased traffic, noise, and pollution, with the added benefits of safer streets, cleaner air, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, a new type of public park and a product for market – nutrient rich compost made in NYC.”

In an article by the Huffington Post, two of the project’s creators, Evan Erlebacher and Andre Guimond, said that they have already considered several factors to ensure the Green Loops won’t smell.

“This kind of composting facility is very different from your average backyard compost heap,” Erlebacher and Guimond said in the article. Although it won’t be cheap, they said this option would bring more long term advantages given that the city already spends millions each year on waste management.

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