Creating a More Sustainable NYC Through Urban Composting

by Deirdre Appel
Part of our Community Spotlight series

Name: Common Ground Compost

What They Do: Common Ground Compost is a woman-owned consulting operation that helps businesses reduce and recycle all kinds of materials, thus supporting the health and sustaining the growth of urban communities. Passionate about what happens to what’s left on the plate, they are working to build a more sustainable NYC through community education and innovations in urban composting.

Their clients range from hotels and restaurants to schools, residential buildings, and other organizations. They focus on education, transparency, information sharing, and metrics, helping to train staff and give their clients the information they need to ensure that their waste is being handled in the way they expect it to be.

How They Do It: They audit waste, review current waste-hauler contracts, train staff, provide custom signage and knowledge products on composting and recycling. They help businesses to navigate the city’s recycling and organic waste rules and encourage them to better understand how to make better, greener choices.

Among its services, Common Ground Compost offers comprehensive waste audits and data analysis to help companies, schools and nonprofits understand how much waste they are generating and where opportunities exist to avoid generating waste in the first place. A waste audit also provides information to help design waste stations, negotiate pricing with waste haulers, and pinpoint areas where recycling practices could be improved.

Mission: Through educational training, investing in pilot programs, consulting with commercial businesses, nonprofits and schools, partnering with community gardens, and connecting waste haulers and other organizations in the industry, the organization hopes to create a gateway for more organizations to start composting in NYC.

Latest project/campaign: In 2014 Common Ground Compost started their composting bike program, Reclaimed Organics, a compost collection service for residents and small businesses in lower Manhattan with a regular hauling route between Canal Street and 59th Street. The bicycle haulers bring food scraps to local community gardens for local composting or to other facilities for processing outside the city. By providing small-(bike)-scale service, small businesses that do not generate enough waste to be attractive customers to truck-based commercial waste haulers can still have access to organics recycling services. Reclaimed Organics is a green alternative to traditional food waste pickup and further reduces the impact that hauling trash by truck normally has on our local community and greater environment.

Major Funding: N/A

Profit/nonprofit:  Profit

Annual Revenue: N/A

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: According to the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY), roughly one third of all the city’s trash is compostable organic matter. To help reduce that figure, Common Ground Compost runs Zero Waste events– supplementing an event producer’s services by providing recycling, composting, and waste stations that allow event attendees to sort waste into categories and making the waste-handling experience more interactive and transparent.


Location: 34 3rd Ave, #173, NY NY 10003
Core Programs: Composting, food waste reduction, consulting, education
Number of staff: 5
Number of volunteers: N/A
Areas served: Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens, New York State
Year Started: 2014
Director/Founder: Director: Meredith Danberg-Ficarelli   | Founder: Laura Rosenshine
Contact Information:

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