Compost islands proposed for New York


March 13, 2014

Present Architecture has proposed a network of composting, green space islands for New York

Present Architecture has proposed a network of composting, green space islands for New York

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As with every major city, New York creates a huge amount of waste. Disposing of it requires a variety of environmentally damaging processes, such as landfill and transportation. To try and minimize the impact of waste disposal, Present Architecture has proposed a series of composting islands along the city's waterfront.

The Green Loop is a network of ten islands that each comprise a composting hub and public space. A minimum of one island in every borough would ensure parity and minimize the distance that garbage trucks have to travel. The composting facilities would process organic waste and the finished compost would be carried away by trains and barges.

As well as processing waste, the islands would contribute to New York's Vision 2020: Comprehensive Waterfront Plan by improving public access and developing waterfront facilities. In a city that is highly built up, the Green Loop offers the potential for adding 125 acres of green space to the city.

The concept is one of a number developed simultaneously by Present Architecture directors Evan Erlebacher and Andre Guimond. Erlebacher explains that the idea was inspired by New York's pilot program for curbside organics collection and the assumption that every borough would need a composting hub.

"We set out to design something desirable that people would actually want to have in their communities," Erlebacher tells Gizmag. "Green Loop doesn't float, but instead is similar to a pier in construction. New York City has less open space per person than nearly every major city in the country. Adding a number of large, high quality public parks in every borough would benefit everyone."

Erlebacher is aware that the Green Loop is a radical concept and recognizes that there would be major challenges in getting it off the ground, financing in particular. He explains, however, that gaining support from citizens, grassroots community organizations, city and state government agencies is the priority.

"There's no doubt that Green Loop is an ambitious plan, but it's a feasible answer to a real problem," he says. "New York City is already piloting a program for the collection of curbside organics and all of that organic waste will have to go somewhere to be processed."

Source: Present Architecture

About the Author
Stu Robarts Stu is a tech writer based in Liverpool, UK. He has previously worked on global digital estate management at Amaze and headed up digital strategy for FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). He likes cups of tea, bacon sandwiches and RSS feeds. All articles by Stu Robarts

I can foresee that they would have a lot of "grass" growing within a week! Conversely, make a good place for those non-existing 'homeless' to hang out.

The Skud

Well makes a improvement over the dumping at sea that was illegal all over the world for 10 years before US stopped to.

Well they can use the stuff to make bio-gas, don't even have to invade any one for it, so its a win win for every one. But they expect a New Yorker to sort there garbage? That is whats needed to make things good quality dirt that can be used.

Toffe Kaal

Take the stinkiest crap you can get your hands on, put it all in one place, and ... turn it into a public space?

This idea totally stinks.


Well, since it's a bit off shore, the stinky is nimby, and the flies have open skies...

But seriously, organic waste is substantial, although since it will have to be trucked off again after it has decomposed, it really isn't much of a solution. And New Yorkers would have to get committed to the program too.

Conversely, building park space on the river for such a densely populated city is a worthy consideration, as long as it can be well-managed and doesn't take away too much dock space.


One flood or thirty years of salty corrosion later and we'll be figuring out how to stop it from leaking into the surrounding water... smart.

Cispa Thrasher

Whoever came up with this idea has never been to a composting plant. In one word: odour.


So did I miss where all the compost then goes to on those trains and barges?


Well these look really lovely - only problem is have they designed them as 'floating' with floating road access too so they wouldn't just 'drown' if the seas rise ? - have to consider that for everything nowadays - oh wait - if they did that then these would make great 'escape islands' as and when the sea level did suddenly get high ! I could see NY'ers camping on the top if that happened (:>)


That is a great idea. Birds and rats will have their own private island vacation resort!

Don Rathburn

When its all full, turn it into a football stadium.


Composting can be done without odor. The finished product can be sold to gardeners/farmers. And the composting can be done without newly created space.

Don Duncan

do so for E River near NJ side & add hotels & maria for Islands aside greenspace. Awesome. Have islands soak up river water & turn into clean water & remove liq waste. More jobs unless Unions object or goofy NYC mayor does.

Stephen Russell
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