After seeing trash and recyclables get tossed in together, Stay Free! Daily wondered if NYC recycling was an urban myth. An informal poll by Stay Free! Daily was inconclusive, revealing that both residential and office garbage and recyclables were jumbled because either recycling wasn't available or that a contractor would separate it. The "recycling isn't available" excuse is interesting - it is the law, according to the city's website but businesses have to take care of their own recycling.
Still, a friend told us, "I see recycling and trash go into the same truck all the time. I'm convinced it's a massive scam/money laundering scheme." So we decided to call the Department of Sanitation's Collection office. The person we spoke to said that there are garbage-only and recycling-only trucks, as well as some trucks that have "dual bins" that can take both. So maybe that's why you may see all garbage going into one truck haphazardly.
We learned some more from the awesome city infrastructure book, The Works by Kate Ascher. Published in 2005, Ascher writes that "roughly 19% of all material collected curbside is recycled." Hmm, 19% doesn't sound great - but Ascher adds that 19% is "more than double the amount recycled when the program was introduced a decade ago."
Paper goes to five private recycling companies the city has contracts with while all metal, glass and plastic are collected by Hugo Neu. The city has a 20-year contract with Hugo Neu, and the company is building a recycling facility in Sunset Park to accept recyclables on barges.
Then again, the confusion could be due to the fact that Mayor Bloomberg stopped the recycling program - for budgetary reasons - after going into office, only to re-instate it in 2004.
What are your recycling experiences? Do you believe it happens here? Here are some city recycling facts and here are Treehugger's suggestions on greening your recycling.