Big Apple Recycling Rules Are Bad for Scavengers

New York -- According toReuters, New York City’s new recycling plan will save $40 million, but it presents a hardship for scavengers.

Under the new plan, residents recycle paper and metal cans, but discard plastic and glass with other refuse. This means that scavengers who used to rummage through residents' blue recycling bags to collect bottles and cans now must rummage through garbage bags to take advantage of the city's five-cent bottle and can redemption program.

"You see families who supplement income, you see immigrant families [who collect containers as] a weekend thing. But it is a serious thing. It is something that provides $50 to $100 or more a weeks," says Guy Polhemus, director of We Can, which provides a can and bottle exchange for cash.

Kathy Dawkins, press officer for the New York Department of Sanitation, says although it was difficult "to cut the recycling program, the city’s $5 billion budget deficit had to be closed."