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January 13, 2020
The final article in Politico’s “Wasted Potential” series looks at the bottle bill and fiscal problems facing New York City’s recycling program.
According to the report, the dual burden of thousands of impoverished New Yorkers looking to capitalize on a redemption system enabled by state law and China’s import ban ended up costing the city’s recycling facility an estimated $14.4 million last year.
“The ‘bottle bill,’ as it’s known, has given rise to a new market: Between 4,000 and 8,000 people, often homeless or destitute, collect beverage containers off city streets to pay for their basic needs,” according to the report. The problem is once those materials are snatched from outdoor bags and bins, they are not counted in the city’s recycling totals.
Last week, Politico also explored recycling challenges in the city’s public housing apartments, lack of recycling oversight in New York City, the mayor’s landfill diversion pledge and the city’s stalled organics waste recycling program.
Politico also reports that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio responded to its "Wasted Potential" series on January 10 by saying he will have “more to say” on how the city can achieve its “zero waste” goal: “We’ve got a lot to do — there’s no two ways about it,” de Blasio said in response to the articles during his weekly interview on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.” “I’ll have more to say on it in the coming weeks as we figure out the next steps of what we have to do."
Politico has more:
Storm clouds are gathering over New York City’s lucrative recycling industry.
Several thousand New Yorkers living on the margins of poverty have been seizing valuable materials from streetside bags for a decade, looking to capitalize on a redemption system enabled by state law. And China’s refusal to accept most foreign recyclables is now strangling the city’s paper exports, causing prices to plummet.
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