New York City has always prided itself on being on the cutting-edge of everything from finance to food to planning for the future. When it comes to recycling however, it's lagged far behind other cities (like San Francisco and its 'Zero Waste Initiative'): municipal recycling hovers at a paltry 15%.The situation is likely even worse for commercial buildings, although it's difficult to know: they employ private haulers who have virtually no oversight or enforcement. But, as with most things, New Yorkers refuse to be left behind for long. The Bloomberg Administration, buoyed and driven by the momentum of dedicated advocacy groups, is trying to double recycling numbers by 2017 with a series of new programs.
The one New Yorkers might be more familiar with is the announcement of rigid plastic recycling - now you can put anything but saran wrap and your cherished VHS tape of your 10th birthday party in the recycling bin! Much of the recycling will be done by SIMS - and you can visit their new center in South Brooklyn, when it opens this spring.
Bloomberg is also pushing for a ban on styrofoam, which lovingly wraps your burgers and contains your caffeine, but also breaks down easily and contaminates existing recycling streams, organic waste, as well as our parks and waterways. The Overbrook Foundation, along with several other foundations, recently sent a letter of support for the ban to both Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn. You can read it at: Letter of Support_Styrofoam Ban_Bloomberg
A new pilot program for composting food waste in schools will also be expanded system-wide this fall. To handle the increased volume (all those sandwiches prepared by mom and chucked in favor of a Snickers), the Administration has also issued a Request-for-Proposals for a new recycling facility.
You can read about more planned changes at NRDC's blog post, and the City's website. And maybe I'll see you at a Greenmarket soon, bringing our compostables for drop-off. Because we may be the Big Apple, but there's no reason we can't also be the Big Green Sustainable & Recyclable Apple City of the future.