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[GreenYes] Re: NYC Recycling?

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] 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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