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[GreenYes] RE: NYC Recycling?

This may be, but I must point out that all of "NYC" does not deserve to be
tarred with the same brush.

The Department of Sanitation collects over 700,000 tons a year of paper,
metal, glass, and plastic recyclables, in addition to recycling organic and
inert materials through other programs. None of this is landfilled; it is
recycled properly. I do not want anyone, Michael Moore or otherwise, to get
the impression that their efforts to recycle at home or in public
institutions in New York City are at all in vain. As stated in my first
email, it is important not to make a few street-side observations as a
visitor to this town, and then go on to draw citywide conclusions about what
is going on here, or anywhere for that matter.

As regards the private sector, we have a wide number of carters here
competing for commercial hauling contracts. The way NYC laws are written,
City enforcement ends at the business generator.

Samantha MacBride

Deputy Director, Recycling

Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling

New York City Department of Sanitation

44 Beaver Street, 6th floor

New York, NY 10010



From: Pete Pasterz [mailto:PAPasterz@no.address]
Sent: Tuesday, May 02, 2006 12:44 PM
To: David Biddle; Samantha MacBride; Karyn Kaplan; GreenYes
Cc: Grayson, Pat
Subject: Re: NYC Recycling?

Most skeptics and non recyclers I talk with cite variations of this reason:
"It all gets landfilled anyway, so why should I bother"

This is the exact issue that Michael Moore raised in his book "Stupid White
Men" on why he no longer recycles, due to his observations in NYC.
Unfortunately, it is NOT just an East Coast or Urban phenomenon. I have
collected a file of many trade and general media reports from around the
country on such incidents of dumping recyclables over the last 5 years.
Most were from just a few companies, with one being the predominant

When I was the Vice President of the National Recycling Coalition, I
proposed a resolution which would ask 3 things of our members:

1. To pledge to set policies in our organizations to not knowingly landfill
any items set out for us to recycle.

2. To self report to our customer any internal discoveries of unintentional
landfilling, or that resulting from willful violations of our policies.

3. To publicly apologize for the incident and to outline the steps we'll
take to prevent it in the future.

Needless to say, this was NOT adopted.

The industry is paying a price for ignoring this, and no amount of
"rebranding" is going to regain the lost trust that this perpetuates.


From: GreenYes@no.address [mailto:GreenYes@no.address] On Behalf
Of David Biddle
Sent: Tuesday, May 02, 2006 11:52 AM
To: Samantha MacBride; Karyn Kaplan; GreenYes
Cc: Grayson, Pat
Subject: dvorak - heuristic [GreenYes] Re: NYC Recycling?
Importance: Low

Samantha and Karyn-

We see the same sort of thing here in Philly and I receive numerous
complaints about haulers "dumping" recyclables and/or seeming to pick them
up in the same truck as trash. Obviously, there is little control over the
private sector and their practices without stringent enforcement policies in

In Philadelphia (and Pennsylvania as a whole) transfer facilities that seek
to separate recyclables from waste must have a permit to process "mixed
waste." This was tried by the industry for a few years (there were three
facilities so permitted in the Philadelphia area in the mid-90s), but it was
found to be wholly impractical and not economic. Currently, we have no such
facilities-and yet I still hear often about haulers mixing waste and
recycling in front- and rear-loading trucks. Go figure...

The key to solving this problem is writing good contracts requiring haulers
to provide separate collection systems and documentation on how much
material is recycled and where it goes-or, better, contracting with one
hauler for recycling and one for trash. We have a document on our web site
that provides guidelines on how to think about and write contracts with
waste and recycling service vendors . It may be found at:

In the end, as far as I can tell, so far, facility managers and business
owners are not dictating the terms of service well enough. As such, they
suffer the consequences. We now offer a service to help re-write contracts
through new RFP processes for businesses and institutions and also provide
monthly support in managing programs and interfacing with service providers.

The lesson in all of this is that if businesses want "out of sight out of
mind," then they run the risk of putting the fox in control of the henhouse.
Forcing the industry to be accountable is the only way to solve this

David Biddle, Executive Director
<> <>

P.O. Box 4037
Philadelphia, PA 19118
215-432-8225 (mobile)


Read In Business magazine to learn about sustainable
businesses in communities across North America!
Go to: <>

on 5/2/06 11:21 AM, Samantha MacBride at smacbride.nycrecycles@no.address

Dear Ms. Kaplan:

In New York City, businesses are served by private carters operating in a
free market, not by the City's Department of Sanitation, which services
residents and institutions, collecting three separate streams: commingled
paper of all kinds (board and paper); commingled metal, and
glass/plastic/beverage carton containers; and refuse.

Businesses are required to source separate recycling under Local Law 87 of
1992. Recycling requirements vary by type of business. See
ml for details.

Under the current legal/institutional structure, City has no control over
the actions of privately contracted carters once the businesses place source
separated materials at the curb. It is certainly possible that carters
collect refuse and bundled corrugated or bagged paper in the same truck,
without compaction, for post-collection sorting. In such cases it is
perfectly feasible to separate paper and board from black bagged refuse; the
former going to recycling as paper and board are valuable commodities on the
secondary materials market. Post-collection separation of commingled
containers would be more difficult.

In addition, if your friends are working in anything other than a food
service venue, then, as you will note, their commercial building is not
required to recycle commingled containers at all, due to the relatively
small amount of non-food service commercial waste streams that consist of
containers. If they work hard to separate out such containers, the carter
has no responsibility to recycle them and most probably will not, due to the
small volumes involved.

If you are interested in learning more about NYC recycling in general, there
are a host of resources at If you are interested
in the commercial waste stream in particular, you may want to consult the
Department's "Commercial Waste Management Study," at

In any event, it is always important to bear in mind that when you discuss
New York City, or most cities/jurisdictions for that matter, you are not
speaking about one monolithic policy and service provider for all residents,
institutions, and businesses; but about an array of institutions, some of
them public and others private; and a variety of laws and programs. San
Francisco may be one exception in this regard, served as it is by one
private corporation for all collections, residential, institutional and
commercial. On the other hand, in contradistinction to New York, many
cities, including Chicago and Los Angeles, exclude multi-unit buildings from
"residential" collection; where as NYC collects the three streams mentioned
above from all 8 million residents, regardless of dwelling type.

What I can assure you, in regard to NYC, is that under the NYC Department of
Sanitation's recycling program that serves residents and institutions, there
are always two source separated streams of recycling collected separately
from refuse; and the notion that some recycling goes into a refuse truck
ultimately to be discarded as refuse is an urban myth. For more reading on
comparative municipal waste policy, you may want to consult the following

Processing and Marketing Recyclables in New York City

New York City Recycling In Context

Also available at
<> <> .

Good luck with your research,

Samantha MacBride
Deputy Director, Recycling
Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling
New York City Department of Sanitation
44 Beaver Street, 6th floor
New York, NY 10010

-----Original Message-----
From: GreenYes@no.address [mailto:GreenYes@no.address]
<mailto:GreenYes@no.address%5d> On Behalf Of Karyn Kaplan
Sent: Tuesday, May 02, 2006 10:35 AM
To: GreenYes
Subject: [GreenYes] NYC Recycling?

I was in NYC recently and a few business people told me that they work
hard to prepare recyclables and then watch the packer truck come and
throw all the recycling in with the trash bags.

Can anyone shed any light on how NYC does it's recycling collection and
indeed is stuff getting recycled or does it all end up in the packer
truck, garbage and all?

Karyn Kaplan
University of Oregon

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