New York City Makes Small Improvement In Recycling Rates

Despite improvements, Department of Sanitation falls short of its goals

According to the annual Mayor’s Management Report, New York City’s Department of Sanitation has increased its recycling rate to 16%, or 575,400 tons for the 2015 fiscal year, up from 15.4% in 2014. The recycling rate measures the amount of waste diverted from landfills, and channeled into various recycling streams.

Commissioner Kathryn Garcia further released a statement hailing the progress, citing the expansion of the city’s recycling program as having bolstered the numbers. In addition to its organics recycling program, the city has also passed measures to ensure that electronic waste does not go to landfills, in accordance with state law. Garcia has also pushed for increased recycling rates in Housing Authority Developments.

Despite these improvements, however, the Department of Sanitation fell a bit short of its goals. According to the municipality’s annual report, Sanitation hoped to divert 19% of all refuse from landfills, rather than the 16% it managed. In addition, the city hoped to achieve 683.3 curbside and containerized recycled tons for the 2015 fiscal year, and reached only 575.4. Other important metrics, such as tons of refuse recycled daily, eluded Sanitation entirely; the report does not list a number. Part of the shortfall may stem from unexpected underperformance – though the city had hoped to recycle 6.2 tons of refuse per truck-shift, each shift yielded only 5.2 recycled tons.

Mayor Bill De Blasio hopes to eliminate nearly all waste from landfills, hoping to hit a 90% diversion rate by 2030. If successful, the effort will make New York the largest city in the Western hemisphere to develop a Zero Waste plan. These programs aim to redesign resource systems so as to reuse as much material as possible. In accordance with the mayor’s schematics, the Department of Sanitation has issued several new ordinances, such as requiring sporting arenas, hotel restaurants and food wholesalers to recycle all waste.