New York newspapers like the idea of boosting the city's plastics recycling efforts. PlasticsNews.com reported last week on the proposal, dubbed Local Law 19, ("NYC may accept all rigid plastics for recycling"). The proposal would be the first significant expansion to recycling in the city since the program was introduced in 1989. Under the proposals, the city will open a new recycling facility in Brooklyn capable of accepting all rigid plastics, not just the PET and high density polyethylene containers currently accepted. In addition, access to recycling bins in public spaces will double in the next three years, and city-wide textile recycling and household hazardous waste collection programs will be offered. Today two leading publications in New York editorialized on behalf of the plan. Crain's New York Business called the plan "A real boost for recycling," and said in part:
The record of recycling in New York City has not been particularly impressive. Before 1989, when curbside recycling was mandated, it was left to scrappy entrepreneurs and environmentalists to collect bottles and newspapers. The new municipal program represented a leap forward, but it was surpassed long ago by other cities' efforts. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ill-fated suspension of the recycling effort in 2002 in order to pare the budget broke the program's momentum and ultimately cost more than it saved. New Yorkers eventually returned to the habit of recycling, but we still aren't very good at it. Our mentality, after decades of unlimited trash collection, is that government should haul off whatever is plopped on the curb, no questions asked. ... Now the good news. The City Council has come up with a belated but welcome solution: All rigid plastics shall be recycled. Give us your tired, your poor, your Chinese takeout containers! Old socks, too. They and other unwanted clothes can be dropped into special bins to be installed citywide--a promising way to capture recyclable textiles, which make up 10% of the waste stream. Legislation has been introduced and is expected to pass next month. We urge Mr. Bloomberg to sign it into law without too much tinkering. Adding materials to the city's recycling load won't increase collection costs, because recycling trucks are now returning from their routes half-empty. Meanwhile, trucks collecting regular garbage will have less to pick up, so the Department of Sanitation could wring some savings out of that. But the real economic and environmental benefits will come from diverting more plastic and clothing from landfills to the recycling market. That's the kind of trash talk all New Yorkers want to hear.The New York Daily News also editorialized in favor of adding more plastics to the city's recycling effort. The column, "Just one word: Plastics: Plan to simplify recycling sounds like a good idea," laments that "Trash recycling is one of the overbearing hassles of life in New York City: You can do plastic bottles or jugs that have a 1 or a 2 on the bottom, as long as the mouth isn't wider than the bottom. Got that? And remember, no yogurt containers!"
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn says she has a better way. Pretty much all household plastic can be recycled, Quinn says, and it can be done economically. She contends that recycling it would cost the city less than shipping it out to landfills with the waste. The Sanitation Department says it will have to examine Quinn's proposals to see if the economies hold up. If we can recycle more while spending - and hassling - less, that's great. If not, toss the idea with the trash.Here's hoping New York can achieve a cost-effective recycling plan that can significantly boost the volume of material that residents can recycle. The plastics industry has long made the case that most (if not all...) plastics are recyclable. Here's an opportunity to prove it. Let's not drop the ball.