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[GreenYes] Solutions for NYC -- 2 questions -- anybody?

The debates rage on here about the recycling program.  Here are two 
questions we've needed answering for some time:

1.  If a Local Law is written stipulating that a certain tonnage of 
materials be separated and marketed for recycling by certain dates, but the 
City does not conduct a program to achieve the required result, then the 
city is in violation.  In our case, the Citywide Recycling Advisory Board, 
the Natural Resources Defense Council, some councilmembers and citizens 
sued the City and won in court SEVEN TIMES over the 1990s because the City 
was not achieving 25% recycling by 1994 as required by Local Law 19 of 
1989.  Each time the judge simply gave the City more time to comply.  I 
think the court may have even specified certain programs the City was 
supposed to undertake.  The City has always been recalcitrant.  The State 
DEC has also written pages of suggestions for methods the City can use to 
increase its recycling rate, but has Never sought to deny permits or 
anything else to force the City to institute programs to bring the City 
into compliance.  The City Council has been asking itself, why should it 
pass another law with requirements if the courts won't enforce it.  We are 
currently close to 20%, but some of that is contamination (at the last 
Manhattan solid waste advisory board meeting, Waste Management told us that 
roughly 28% of the metal, glass, and plastic, and maybe 5% of the paper 
collections is contamination and is exported for disposal, so that reduces 
the stated recycling rate significantly). Jeez!  I wonder if this 
contamination is the 40% of the MGP that is landfilled, and not a lack of 
markets!  That can be solved by education!

In any event, has any municipality passed a law with stated remedies for 
non-compliance included in it?  Are there other solutions that have 
worked?  (BTW, the State's Solid waste management act of 1988 has a state 
goal for recycling of 42% -- the City is nowhere near that, of course).

2.  The Mayor says that the metal, glass and plastic portion of the 
recyclables are not successfully marketed 40% of the time.  Assuming it is 
a lack of markets, I suspect the problem is mainly glass and plastic.  Are 
other municipalities having problems marketing these materials?  NYC DOS 
used to have a small division within its recycling program dedicated to 
CREATING markets for its recycled materials.  I remember when that program 
was dissolved (it's been many years).  I would expect that reinstituting 
that division a few years ago would have prevented this problem.  Also, the 
City government itself could be a huge market for recycled content 
goods.  Currently, it is a market for some paper, but not much 
else.  Giuliani fired the environmental procurement officer when he came 
into power in 1993.  In order to get the most recent Solid waste management 
plan approved by the City Council in November 2000, Giuliani Promised to 
hire 2 environmental procurement officers and conduct training for the 
agencies.  This, and most of the other promises, have been abrogated.  The 
City has successfully fought off not one, but two environmental procurement 
bills that the environmental community co-authored in the City Council (see 
Local Law 482 -  Are 
there cities out there that are able to market all their glass and plastic 
successfully?  I know that we used to...

Maggie Clarke, Ph.D.
Environmental Scientist and Educator
New York City 
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