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[GreenYes] Re: NYC Recycling?

Samantha and Karyn-

We see the same sort of thing here in Philly and I receive numerous
complaints about haulers ³dumping² 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 ³mixed
waste.² 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 ³out of sight out of
mind,² 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
> 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
> Sanitation¹s 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 reports:
> 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
> 917-237-5674
> -----Original Message-----
> From: GreenYes@no.address [mailto:GreenYes@no.address] 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?
> Thanks-
> Karyn Kaplan
> University of Oregon
> >

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