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NYC planning to recycle 'everything'

By: Catherine Kavanaugh
WASTE & RECYCLING NEWS

July 31, 2013

On course to double its recycling rate to 30 percent by 2017 and save at least $60 million annually, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg unveiled a new public information campaign — "Recycle Everything"— to remind everyone how easy it can be to make a measurable difference.

Scraps of colorful product labels make up artsy collages that are being placed in print publications and will be seen in subways and on streets starting Aug. 5. Shaped like bottles, cans, magazines, and yogurt containers, the collages have slogans, such as "Give new life to old plastics," "Turn this issue into next week's," and "Recycled as a can. Reborn as a can."

The "Recycle Everything" ads created by Grey New York highlight ambitious policies and investments that will allow more waste to be recycled in the Big Apple, or as one proponent put it: to realize the fruit scraps of their labor.

The campaign precedes a plan to expand food-waste collection this fall from a few select Manhattan high-rises to neighborhoods in Brooklyn and the Bronx. In the spring, Queens and Staten Island will begin organics recycling and the program will reach an estimated 125,000 residents.

The "Recycle Everything" campaign follows an April initiative that allows New Yorkers to recycle all rigid plastics, including toys and hangers; that marked the largest expansion of the recycling program in 25 years.

"The tagline sums up nicely how far we've come: Recycle everything," Mayor Bloomberg said during the campaign launch July 29.

New Yorkers generate 11,000 tons of waste every day. In total, metal, glass, plastic and food waste, textiles and electronics account for 80 percent of the waste stream. The mayor said the public information campaign and expanded collection services will help divert recyclable materials away from landfills.

"These ambitious policies will save at least $60 million in taxpayer dollars and have a significant environmental impact, making them the type of investments we need to secure the city's future," Bloomberg said.

Organic waste accounts for more than 35 percent of the city's total waste stream. Recycling diverts it from landfills to be composted or converted into energy. In places where food-waste recycling is offered, the Department of Sanitation has found the voluntary participation rate exceeds 50 percent.

For households that want to compost but aren't in a pilot area, the city is partnering with the non-profit group GrowNYC to begin food-scrap collection at drop-off points in five boroughs. The compost will be used at community gardens.

The GrowNYC collection program is on track to divert more than 1 million pounds from landfills this year.

The city also developed Re-Fashion, a program for clothing and textile collection service in more than 280 buildings citywide.

In addition, it is planning the most expansive electronics-waste collection service in the U.S. Announced in May, the first phase of the program calls for registering buildings with more than 10 units.

The city hopes to enroll most buildings before a ban on disposing of electronics in residential trash takes effect in 2015.