I know it must seem that I always use this space to write about zero-waste initiatives or expanded recycling efforts. In my defense, it has been a whopping two months since I last addressed the topic ("It's Changing," Waste Age, June 2010), and, furthermore, it's a fascinating topic.
In July, the New York City Council passed legislation that observers say represents the first significant expansion of the city's recycling program since the program began more than 20 years ago. Following the completion of a new recycling facility in Brooklyn, the city will begin accepting all rigid plastic containers — such as yogurt tubs, flower pots and medicine bottles — for recycling. Currently, the city only accepts plastic types 1 and 2. The Brooklyn facility is slated to open in 2012. New York officials estimate that this expansion of plastics recycling will divert more than 8,000 tons of plastics from landfills annually.
The city also will place 200 new recycling bins in public spaces over the next three years, and will add a total of 700 bins over the next decade. New York City currently has about 300 such bins in place.
Another component of the expanded recycling program is the requirement that the city's Department of Sanitation (DOS) conduct at least one household hazardous waste collection event in each borough each year. The legislation also gives the department the goal of increasing the number of events over the long-term or making the collection sites permanent operations.
The New York vote came several days after the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection began accepting public comment on a Solid Waste Master Plan draft that calls for the state to reduce its landfilled waste by 80 percent by 2050.
When it comes to zero-waste or ambitious recycling plans, the person that I'd really like to hear from is you. I ask these questions of both members of the public and private sector:
- What is your overall take on zero-waste initiatives and similar efforts?
- Do they truly represent the future of waste management?
- What kinds of problems do they present to both private waste firms and public sanitation departments?
Please send your responses — with your name, title and company/department — to [email protected]. We would like to run some of the responses in a future "Letters to the Editor" page and also use the answers to inform our future coverage of the subject.