New York City Launches Consumer Waste Reduction Campaign

Allan Gerlat, News Editor

May 15, 2015

3 Min Read
New York City Launches Consumer Waste Reduction Campaign

New York City has launched a campaign to reduce consumer waste, called “B.Y.O,” to promote living a less disposable life by encouraging the use of reusable mugs, bottles and bags.

The Bring Your Own campaign, part of the GreeNYC initiative, aims to address and reduce the 3 million tons of waste that the New York City Department of Sanitation collects annually. That includes 10 billion single-use bags, 315,000 tons of paper for recycling and about 800 million bottles of water, according to a news release.

The Sanitation Department collects more than 1,700 tons of single-use carryout bags per week. Currently only about 5 percent of the paper bag total is recycled.

New York City is enacting several waste prevention opportunities, including installing public water fountains to accommodate reusable bottles, promoting the use of reusable bags, and distributing reusable bags and water bottles at city events.

It costs New York City $12.5 million annually to dispose of single-use carryout bags in landfills outside the city.

“Always using disposable bags or cups is a waste of our resources,” said Kathryn Garcia, Sanitation commissioner. “When you bring your reusable bag to the grocery store, or your travel mug to the coffee shop, you are keeping the disposable versions out of our landfills, and helping keep the city cleaner and greener.”

 GreeNYC earlier launched a similar campaign aimed at influencing consumer behavior with its “Stop Junk Mail” online tool. It has accounted for 5.8 million pounds of consumer paper waste being diverted from the landfill.

 GreeNYC is launching the BYO awareness campaign through bus, subway and digital ads, in radio public service announcements, and on billboards and city waste and recycling trucks. The city’s public education group is working with small businesses in all five boroughs and in partnership with the Department of Small Business Services to encourage them to post signage demonstrating their commitment to improving the environment and to remind customers to bring their own mugs, bottles and bags when visiting.

 The program is part of “One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City,” the government’s comprehensive plan for a sustainable and resilient municipality. The plan’s goals include sending zero waste to landfills and reducing waste disposal by 90 percent by 2030.

 That plan, announced in April, calls for the city to reduce the amount of waste it disposes by 90 percent by 2030 and send zero waste to landfills by that point.

The plan includes the expansion of New York City’s organics curbside collection and local drop-off site programs to serve all New Yorkers by the end of 2018. The city also hopes to implement single-stream recycling collection for metal, glass, plastic and paper products by 2020.

New York City’s other waste initiatives include reducing the use of plastic bags and other non-compostable waste; giving every New Yorker the opportunity to recycle and reduce waste; making all schools zero waste schools; expanding opportunities to reuse and recycle textiles and electronic waste; developing a blueprint for a Save-as-You-Throw program to reduce waste; and reducing commercial waste disposal by 90 percent by 2030.

In January the city banned single-use expanded polystyrene foam items and packaging beginning July 1, determining that the material cannot be recycled.

But as aggressive as its plans have been, New York City is trying to dig itself out of a deep hole. In a Waste360 photo gallery earlier this month based on a recent study, New York proved to be the most wasteful city on the planet–by far. In the year examined, 2011, New York generated nearly three times as much municipal solid waste, with 33.2 million metric tons, as the second most wasteful municipality, Mexico City. The study also looked at energy use and water use, and New York came out as the worst in those categories as well.

About the Author(s)

Allan Gerlat

News Editor, Waste360

Allan Gerlat joined the Waste360 staff in September 2011 as news editor. He was the editor of Waste & Recycling News for the first 16 years of its history, and under his guidance the publication won 27 national and regional awards.

Before Waste & Recycling News, Allan worked at another Crain Communications publication, Rubber & Plastics News, which covers rubber product manufacturing. He began with the publication as associate editor and eventually became managing editor, a position he held for nine years.

Allan is a graduate of Ohio University, where he earned a BS in journalism. He is based in Sagamore Hills, in northeast Ohio.

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