New York City’s Department of Sanitation reported that New York City recycles 18% of trash from homes and 25% of trash from businesses. The city isn’t doing as well as Seattle or San Francisco, according to the New York Times.

Mayors including Bloomberg and DeBlasio have struggled with recycling in the city. New York City outsources much of its trash, in 2018 the city exported over 12 million tons to the city of Rensselaer. According to Politico, trash, and recycling also get exported as far away as South Carolina.

Business recycling rates are dependent on the enforcement of city policies. A new bill passed in October 2019, which gave the Department of Sanitation oversight to set recycling standards at businesses. Three haulers will service 20 zones of businesses. Those zones won’t go into effect until 2023, further delaying higher recycling rates.

Much of the city’s waste is made up of food and yard scraps. These should be separated and made into compost, but the funding for a city-wide compost program is still on hold. Setting up compost is expensive, especially compared to recycling glass and paper, which can be sold for profit.

Residents in the city aren’t doing much better than businesses. Reporting by Politico also found that only 15% of New York City Housing complexes had recycling set up. 400,000 public housing residents only recycle 2% of their waste. Other New Yorkers have problems knowing what to recycle, putting waste into incorrect bins, or not following recycling rules set by their residence.

New York residents can write their city councilors and urge them to vote for improved waste and recycling policies. Educate yourself on how to recycle and encourage those in your area to do the same.

Check out these articles to learn more about how to recycle and how you can help improve recycling in your city:

Read more about New York City policies, recycling and waste in One Green Planet, check out these articles:

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