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Re: [greenyes] NY Times Editorial

I would like to point out an error in the editorial. When the author
states: "In 1989, fewer than 1 percent of city
residents sorted their newspapers, cans and cartons. By 2002, about 20
percent had the habit," he or she is confusing participation rate with
diversion rate. NYC curbside residential diversion rate rose from 1% to 21%
in that period. Its participation rate, assessed over five years of market
research, was in 2000 close to 90%.

Samantha MacBride
Senior Policy Analyst
Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling
NYC Department of Sanitation

----- Original Message -----
From: "Amy Perlmutter" <amyperl@no.address>
To: "greenyes" <greenyes@no.address>
Sent: Tuesday, March 23, 2004 9:58 AM
Subject: [greenyes] NY Times Editorial

Editorial in today¹s NY Times:

Back to Recycling

Recycling in New York City didn't entirely go away in the last two years.
But it got as confusing as a game of Twister. First, in the summer of 2002,
the programs for glass and plastic were suspended. Metal and paper recycling
continued. Then plastic came back last summer, but not glass, which still
had to be tossed in with regular trash. A further complication was a switch
in recycling collections to every other week, instead of weekly. It all left
city residents puzzling over their garbage, Hamlet-style: to recycle or not
to recycle, that is the question.

While the city may have had the best of intentions in suspending parts of
the recycling program, the experiment did not produce the savings predicted.
All those items that could have been recycled were trucked to increasingly
expensive landfills, part of the city's 12,000 tons of daily residential and
institutional trash. And what wasn't factored into the cost-benefit analysis
was the psychological effect on New Yorkers, who had just started
internalizing the recycling routine. In 1989, fewer than 1 percent of city
residents sorted their newspapers, cans and cartons. By 2002, about 20
percent had the habit. Recycling takes effort, but residents were coming
around to seeing it like daily exercise: not always enjoyable, but good for

For confirmed recyclers, tossing bottles in the trash again brought a
certain trauma, or a thrill of rule-flouting. Then some got used to
promiscuous trash-tossing, and their garbage bags took on the look of a
slacker, with unsightly bulges. Reasserting rubbish discipline may not be
easy. The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental nonprofit
group, has helped by paying for subway ads promoting recycling. The city's
own re-education campaign includes instructive fliers in newspapers, but
cries out for more fanfare. It's up to the city < and Mayor Michael
Bloomberg in particular < to send strong signals that recycling is back for
good and that the city takes it very seriously.

When the mayor cut back, he promised to study the recycling issue, so he
deserves credit for following through and reinstating the entire program.
Now it's time for Mr. Bloomberg to use his considerable sales skills to
persuade New Yorkers to get back on the wagon.

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