Despite Mayor Bloomberg‘s many new sustainable practices that have been implemented through the PlaNYC initiatve, new data reveals that the city’s recycling rate has dropped over the last five years. New York City’s recycling rate slipped to just 15 percent in 2011, and it continues to fall. Aside from wasting valuable resources, the undiverted trash also costs the city millions of dollars to haul to landfills.
The national average rate for recycling/waste diversion is an impressive 34.1 percent, with recycling stars like Seattle weighing in at 54 percent and San Francisco at 77 percent. This leaves New York City in the dust, with our highest recycling rate only reaching 28.8% in Lower Manhattan neighborhoods. The Natural Resources Defense Council in New York has brought this problem to Bloomberg’s attention, thus far without result.
It was this group that most protested the suspension of glass, metal and plastic recycling back in 2002 for budgetary reasons, an action which they site as the catalyst that began the dwindling recycling rate. 3.2 million tons of solid waste is transported out of the city each year, and that rate is climbing, causing a new shipping waste station to be constructed on the Upper East Side.
Activists find Bloomberg himself at fault for some of the blame of the state of recycling and waste in New York City, through his action of cutting back on the recycling budget. Heavily criticized over this issue as a “green mayor,” Bloomberg has recently stated that he will double the amount of waste recycled by 2017, which would slowly catch New York up with the rest of the world. The plan will include more recycling bins in public spaces, the recycling of more kinds of plastics, and an expansion of the current recycling plants.
Hopefully with these combined efforts, New York can continue to be a leading green city in the world, and reach the same recycling levels as smaller cities.
Via DNA Info