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Sorted Out: Checking Up on Billion Oyster Party’s Waste

By Susannah Black
June 13, 2016

It’s been nearly a month since the Third Annual Billion Oyster Party. Here’s something you may not have known about it: it was an almost zero waste-to-landfill event, thanks to BOP partner Earth Matter.

Want see what happened to all the food scraps and compostable serviceware collected that Thursday?


Every year, part of designing the Billion Oyster Party is designing in sustainability criteria.  As an oyster and food celebration, the event has the potential to generate quite a bit of landfill– or a substantial amount of good rich compost.  We’ve chosen the latter course. From food scraps to compostable service ware, as much as possible is composted. For example, the glasses used during the event were made of PLA – not plastic!- a material made of corn, which is 100% compostable. Year after year, our friends from the NYC Compost Project hosted by Earth Matter NY assist Billion Oyster Party organizers by providing  source-separation stations and event educators, many of them Harbor School students.  After the event, they compost and cure all the organic waste generated. This year, that came to 1450 lbs. of oyster shells and 450 lbs. of compostables. Only 7 out of 100 bags of trash couldn’t be recycled and/or composted.

When composting is done right, it goes fast– see the GIF above to see what happened to the refuse in just the two weeks following the party.  All food scraps and compostable materials collected from the party have been processed in Earth Matter’s Governor Island Composting Center and turned into beneficial compost. Recovered oyster shells are already curing in BOP’s curing site at the NRG campus on Staten Island for future oyster reef restoration. If you want to know more about the composting process, visit Earth Matter’s Compost Learning Center  on Governors Island this summer! 

Earth Matter is a not-for-profit organization, located on Governors Island as well, dedicated to advancing the art, science, and application of composting in and around NYC.  Earth Matter accepts and processes food waste as part of the Department of Sanitation of New York’s NYC Compost Project, which works to rebuild NYC’s soil, neighborhood by neighborhood. Earth Matter also operates the BOP Shell Collection Program.

by Alberto Carreras, BOP Shell Collection Program Manager