Why does NYC send easily recyclable PET plastic containers to landfill?
New York City recycles plastic – or so I thought! For the last several years I have been carefully scrubbing all plastic number 1 (PET) and number 2 (HDPE) containers (such as most deli containers that you get when you buy tomatoes or sliced fruit) and collecting them for NYC recycling. Just yesterday the superintendent of my building brought a giant bag of deli containers back up to me from the recycling bin and said ‘This all needs to go in the trash – NYC won’t recycle it‘. I stared at him disbelief until he pulled out a flyer from the NYC government stating that it WON’T TAKE ANY PLASTIC EXCEPT PLASTIC BOTTLES – even easily recyclable #1 (PET) and #2 (HDPE) plastic!
This news blew my mind – why would the New York City government waste a chance to recycle all the PET and HDPE in non-bottle containers such as fruit and deli containers? Especially when most other cities (such as San Francisco) DO recycle all plastics? According to the NYC recycling website, it seems that the reason NYC is not doing it is because ‘it is not worth the effort’:
In other municipal recycling programs in the U.S., such as San Francisco, residents are encouraged to recycle all plastics in order to maximize the recycling rate of HDPE and PET. If residents do not have to think about which plastic to recycle or to discard, the thinking goes, they will recycle more overall. In such programs, non-HDPE and non-PET resins are usually sorted out and discarded at the recycling plant. In New York City, high labor and transportation costs suggest that such an approach is not worth the expense and extra citizen effort.
To summarize, apparently New York City recycling workers are simply too lazy to sort out recyclable plastics from the non-recyclable plastics, and they don’t trust NY citizens to be able to figure out the difference themselves. Grrrr…
What do YOU think New Yorkers? Do you think we can be trusted to tell the difference between a #1 and a #6 on the bottom of a plastic container? Do you care? I like to hope I am not the only one angry about all this wasted effort and wasted plastic… If you find this issue frustrating, complain the NYC goverment about it HERE >
And please let me know your thoughts below in the comment section!