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[greenyes] New York City Supports Bigger Better Bottle Bill

The New York City government officially supports the "bigger, better bottle
bill."  The report below was released on March 20th by a Joint Task Force of
the Mayor and the New York City Council on Recycling.  Although the report
does not endorse specific legislation, it recommends both expansion of the
bottle bill and the return of all unclaimed deposits to the city.
This is a MAJOR victory for the groups that have been plugging away at this
in New York City since last February, when Mayor Bloomberg proposed both
scrapping the metal/glass/plastic recycling program AND changing the bottle
bill deposit to a 5-cent tax to fund the recycling program in the future.


March 20, 2003


In 1988, New York State enacted the Solid Waste Management Act, which
required all municipalities to establish local recycling programs. In early
1989, New York City enacted the first recycling law, Local Law 19.  The Law
made recycling mandatory, and by specifying tonnage requirements, set an
effective 25 percent mandate for solid waste recycling in New York City, to
be achieved by 1995.  It directed the Department of Sanitation to mount a
public education and outreach campaign, as well as to research markets and
economic development opportunities for recycling businesses.

In 1990, the Department of Sanitation began collecting recyclables in two,
separate streams:  co-mingled metal cans, plastic jugs and bottles, and
glass bottles and jars (MGP); and newspapers, magazines, and cardboard
(paper). In 1995, the Department of Sanitation designated several additional
materials for the curbside program ? including mixed paper, household metal,
and beverage cartons. In 1999, weekly recycling collection was implemented
in all 59 districts of the City.

Throughout the 1990?s DSNY also ran programs for leaf collection, backyard
composting, and waste prevention, but by and large the basic structure of
the recycling program stayed the same.  Citizens were required by law to
source-separate paper from MGP at home and set it at curbside on designated
days, following a color-coding system.  The City has used rear-loading,
manual trucks to collect these materials, introducing dual-bin trucks in
roughly half the City?s sanitation districts.

The Fiscal 2003 Adopted Budget included the following provisions impacting
the recycling program:

Ø	Metal recycling was preserved, while plastic recycling was suspended for
fiscal year 2003 (from July 1, 2002 to June 30, 2003), glass was suspended
for fiscal year 2003 and 2004 (ending June 30, 2004), and composting was
suspended indefinitely.
Ø	The Department would only be required to meet tonnage amounts for
recyclable material that was not suspended.
Ø	The Department would not have to designate ?any additional recyclable
materials during any period in which the collection of glass, plastic, or
beverage cartons are suspended.?
Ø	The Administration and the Council would jointly create a task force to
examine various issues and make recommendations to improve recycling.


This report presents the findings of the Recycling Task Force jointly
appointed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the City Council in accordance
with Local Law 11 of 2002.  The Task Force?s mandate is to:

??examine and make recommendations that include steps necessary to improve
the efficiency of source-separation and collection of recyclable materials;
appropriate recycling standards; the identification and development of
markets for recyclable materials; the expansion of the New York State
Returnable Container Act; and the development and implementation of
strategies to educate residents on compliance with the recycling laws.?

In accordance with the law, the Task Force makes the following
recommendations to be considered for implementation by the Mayor and the
City Council to improve the cost-effectiveness and environmental benefits of



·	Study the potential for a single-stream collection process.

Single-stream recycling, wherein residents place paper, metal, glass and
plastic recyclables in one receptacle, is widely used in cities in
California and other Western states.  Research on participation rates has
shown that residents are more likely to participate in programs that they
find convenient, and among all choices, single-stream options are considered
the easiest for the public.  Contamination with single stream systems is a
major concern.  However, the Department of Sanitation should monitor
developments in recycling technology and undertake a study of the long-term
feasibility of single-stream recycling in New York City.

·	Reduce collection costs through the institution of bi-weekly recycling

Pursuant to Local Law 59 of 1998, current metal recycling pick-ups are done
on a weekly basis. Due to the relatively low volumes of metal placed
curbside weekly under this schedule a majority of trucks are collecting
significantly less than maximum capacity. Sufficient excess capacity exists
to accommodate not only the reintroduction of plastic recycling, but also
the increased tonnage that would result from less frequent collection in all
but the heaviest paper recycling districts. Therefore, where feasible the
City should revert to a bi-weekly recycling schedule, in selected sanitation
districts.  When evaluating the feasibility of bi-weekly recycling the City
will consider, community district diversion rates, the ability of property
owners to store recyclables, and potential budget savings.

·	Examine the feasibility of a Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) system of charges for
refuse to encourage maximum recycling.

Increasing recycling diversion rates will have a positive effect on
productivity.  Pay-As-You-Throw Programs (PAYT) that establish a system of
charges for refuse to encourage maximum recycling, have potential as a
strategy to improve diversion rates.  PAYT systems are in place in many
communities around the United States, including Los Angeles, Austin and
Buffalo.  These programs are structured in a way that the more refuse
collected; the more one pays, giving residents an incentive to increase
recycling. While PAYT systems have the potential to increase recycling
participation, a concomitant increase in the contamination of recyclables
may be an unavoidable and undesirable consequence as well. The City should
undertake a study exploring the feasibility of implementing a PAYT system.

·	A CompStat?like program should be implemented to hold the Department of
Sanitation accountable for recycling performance.

The Mayor?s Office of Operations and the Department of Sanitation should
develop an expanded array of data on recycling performance that will be
periodically reported to the public.


·	The Task Force recognizes that the recycling diversion rates established
by Local Law 19 in 1989 should be revisited.

Given the importance and sensitivity surrounding this issue, revised
recycling diversion rate targets should be established after full
solicitation of public comment.  In addition to public concerns, the
establishment of new diversion rates should consider: (1) best legislative
practices employed in other large cities within the United States, and (2)
actual curbside and containerized collections. This process of public
involvement and consideration of comment should be completed in a timely
manner and new diversion rates should be established on or before July 1,

·	In the long-term the City should undertake a new residential waste
composition study to validate or further modify the newly established
diversion standards.

The immediate challenges of recycling metal and plastic are not impacted by
the lack of a more recent study.  However, the current diversion tonnage
requirements were set based on a 1989 citywide waste characterization study.
A reexamination of underlying waste composition in relation to diversion is
recommended. In light of current budget constraints the City should seek out
private or not-for-profit funds to conduct a new study as soon as possible.


·	Restore Plastic and Beverage Container Recycling as Scheduled on July 1,

Recent solicitation of bids for continued recycling of metal and the
reintroduction of plastic resulted in markedly improved bids relative to
last year.  The firm of Hugo Neu Schnitzer, which currently handles the City
?s metal recyclables has offered a revenue bid whereby the company would pay
the City $5.10 per ton to process both metal and plastic.  This is in sharp
contrast to six other qualified bids received that would have required the
City to pay between $65.75 and $110.00 per ton to take the combined metal
and plastic recycling stream.  While the recycling of plastic should be
reintroduced, it should be limited to only those products required to be
recycled before the suspension.  Re-introducing plastic is not expected to
significantly impact collection costs, as current capacity is available to
handle the additional tonnage utilizing existing truck shifts and manpower.

·	Continue glass recycling suspension until issues of viability of markets
and contamination of recycling stream are adequately addressed.

Local Law 11 of 2002 provides for reinstatement of glass recycling effective
July 1, 2004.  The Task Force generally agrees that this reinstatement
should not occur until such time as the City is able to adequately address
the problem of glass breakage and its contamination of the mixed recyclable
stream.  In addition, restoration of glass recycling should be contingent
upon identification of clearly developed, proximal economic markets that
make it economically and environmentally beneficial for the City to recycle
glass products. The Mayor and the City Council should agree to work together
on efforts to address these issues.

The City Council representatives on the Task Force further recommend that if
aggregate bids for recyclable metal, glass, and plastic are comparable to
the disposal rate for solid waste, the recycling of glass should be
reinstituted on schedule.  The Mayor?s representatives on the Task Force
agree that glass recycling should be considered for reinstatement when the
contamination issue can be addressed and the total cost of adding glass to
recycling (including the net impact on recycling revenues) is equal or less
than the total cost of collection and disposal of glass.

·	The City should reassess current procurement practices to incorporate
greater flexibility, such as long-term contracting and incentives that could
lead to increased private sector investment in processing and recycling

·	Within current budget constraints, the City should work through the
Economic Development Corporation to explore ways to maximize growth in


·	Amend State Law to expand the universe of containers subject to deposit
and redemption.

The definition of containers subject to the five-cent per container
redemption fee should be expanded to capture additional carbonated and
non-carbonated beverage products that did not constitute significant
recyclables at the time the current list of containers subject to the Bottle
Bill was developed.  The expanded list should include iced teas, fruit
juices and bottled water products.

·	Enact State legislation to provide for the return of unredeemed deposits
to the municipality in which the original purchase occurred.


·	Within budget constraints, recognize the need to educate the public on
details of City recycling programs and provide specific guidance on
compliance, and the consequences of non-compliance.

·	Explore opportunities for non-city funding of outreach and educational
initiatives, including funding partnerships with the advocacy community to
help the City achieve its recycling goals.

·	Revise the current system of disincentives (including enhanced fines) with
the goal of further deterring non-compliance with residential recycling
rules and regulations, along with better explanations of recycling

The Department should revise its graduated system of disincentives that hold
residents accountable for not recycling while also constructively explaining
how they failed to comply.  A campaign informing the public about increased
enforcement and a system of graduated fines for non-compliance is

Patricia Franklin
Executive Director
Container Recycling Institute
1911 N. Fort Myer Drive, Ste. 702
Arlington, VA 22209

TEL:   703.276.9800
FAX:   703.276.9587
EMAIL: pfranklin@no.address

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