Several plastics trade associations are protesting New York's decision to suspend curbside plastics recycling, and are criticizing what they see as inaccurate statements from Mayor Michael Bloomberg that markets do not exist for the materials.
The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers and the American Plastics Council, both in Arlington, Va., sent letters to Bloomberg; the National Association for PET Container Resources in Charlotte, N.C., said July 2 it planned to send one. On July 1, New York stopped collecting plastic and glass bottles for recycling.
City officials blamed the decision on tight budgets, and said the move will save $40 million a year.
Bloomberg told a news conference June 27 that it costs New York $65 a ton to send its trash to a landfill, but $110 a ton to recycle plastic and glass.
``We wanted to help the environment as much as we could,'' Bloomberg said. For ``the more labor-intensive plastic and glass, however, there just aren't current markets. The cost of sorting out the small amount of glass and the small amount of plastic is prohibitive.''
The plastics industry, conversely, said markets do exist.
APR wrote June 24 that it ``must go on record as being adamantly in disagreement with your statement to ABC television that there are no markets'' for post-consumer plastic bottles collected in New York.
``The market demand for and the capacity to recycle plastic bottles into a new raw material has been, is and will be in excess of the available supply from communities across the country,'' APR wrote.
APR said its member companies are ready to accept all plastic containers collected from New York's curbside program. APC said it has a free database of markets for recycled plastics and said ``quality markets'' exist in the New York area.
APR director Robin Cotchan said her association also is worried about the precedent New York's decision could set for other cities.
``What we are worried about really is the domino effect - will other cities do that?''
NAPCOR President Luke Schmidt said that while his group is concerned about New York, he is not aware of other cities that are considering dropping plastics recycling. New York's budget situation and coping with its post-Sept. 11 economic problems make it unique, he said.
``We are extremely sympathetic to the city for what it is going through,'' Schmidt said. ``The primary thrust of our letter will be to set the record straight about his previous remarks that there aren't markets for plastics.''
New York is stopping plastics recycling for one year, and glass for two years. The city will continue curbside recycling of metals and paper.
Bloomberg said the city will form a panel to look at making recycling more feasible.
New York's deposit system will remain in place, and Bloomberg said he is open to changes in that system.
``When you look at the cost of recycling, it is something the general public is not aware of,'' said John Doherty, the city's sanitation commissioner.