Monday, August 2, 2010

City Council Passes Expanded Recycling Legislation

Last Thursday the City Council passed a package of legislation that represents the first significant expansion of the city’s recycling program since it was created in 1989.

Currently, the city only collects numbers 1 and 2 plastics, limited mostly to bottles and jugs. The new legislation would require the Department of Sanitation (DOS) to collect all rigid plastic containers, including yogurt tubs, take-out containers, flower pots and medicine bottles. This component of the bill wouldn’t take effect, however, until a new recycling facility at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park is completed, set for mid-2012.

After the facility is open, officials say the city will analyze the cost of recycling the new types of plastics and present the finding to the council. The facility will be privately owned and operated.

Another feature of the legislation is expanded public space recycling, with 200 new recycling bins installed at public spaces around the city over the next three years, and a total of 700 bins installed within the next 10 years. Right now, there are about 300 such bins around the city.

DOS would also be required to establish a citywide textile collection. A voluntary manufacturer and retailer take-back program would be established for unwanted household paint, which currently makes up about 50 percent of household hazardous waste.

Recycling at city schools would be improved under the legislation, with recycling coordinators established in every school and recycling bins provided in every classroom. Leaf and yard waste composting and collection would also be improved citywide.

DOS would be required to create a guide to the residential recycling program and provide training for owners and employees of buildings with nine or more units that have been fined for improper recycling. The fine structure would also be different under the new legislation. Small property owners would receive different fines than those of large residential and commercial buildings.

“Our legislation will divert over 8,000 tons of plastic every year away from landfills and incinerators,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “That’s equal to the amount of trash produced by nearly 10,000 people each year. This is one step closer to making New York City cleaner and greener for our current and future residents.”

— With reporting by the Associated Press