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January 4, 2019
Millions of people around the globe gathered to celebrate the New Year. And with throngs of people comes tons of waste.
Besides the first responders who work to keep people safe every day, the real unsung heroes of annual New Year’s Eve (NYE) celebrations are those who come out to clean up after the last piece of confetti has fallen and the last glass of champagne has been drunk.
They are the public works employees, venues that set their minds to reducing waste during these elaborate celebrations and on a day-to-day basis and the smaller community organizations that take pride in keeping their cities clean.
Here is a roundup of how some cities and organizations gathered to get their cities back in working order as quickly as possible before the sun rose on New Year’s Day.
Every New Year’s Eve, revelers gather in Times Square to ring in the upcoming year. Party hats, noisemakers, confetti and paper streamers help make a festive night, but all the material left behind must be cleared by daybreak.
As the throngs of celebrants called it a night, an army of sanitation employees from the City of New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) were ready to “sweep in” to clean up the aftermath.
This year, DSNY’s Times Square cleanup included 254 sanitation workers and 51 supervisors and chiefs on duty. They were armed with 52 collection trucks, 30 mechanical brooms, 12 rack trucks, five haulsters, 58 backpack blowers and 58 hand brooms to get the job done.
DSNY removed more than 56 tons of debris left behind from the celebration.
“New Year’s Eve in New York City brings not only millions of people to the Times Square area but also tons of debris,” said DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia in a statement. “Thanks to a small army of sanitation employees, every last piece of confetti will be quickly cleared away.”
After more than 300,000 people gathered along the Las Vegas Strip for NYE, Clark County, Nev., crews ensured city streets were essentially spotless by the time the sun came up on January 1.
According to a Fox 5 KVVU report, nearly 12 tons of garbage is collected during NYE celebrations in Las Vegas every year. It takes more than a dozen street cleaners and upwards of 80 workers to get the job done.
This year, the county also sent out a reminder to all revelers that coolers and glass items are prohibited during the strip’s annual NYE celebrations.
This New Year’s Eve, The Midway, a San Francisco-based multifaceted creative complex, partnered with Lonely Whale, a global organization leading the movement to remove single-use plastics, to fight the plastic pollution crisis. Though the partnership isn’t exactly a massive cleanup effort, The Midway expects to replace an estimated 300,000 single-use plastic water bottles with aluminum canned water in 2019 to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the oceans.
Launched on New Year’s Eve, The Midway replaced single-use plastic water bottles with aluminum canned water for the nearly 9,000 San Francisco residents who attended the venue’s New Year’s Eve event. And through the rest of 2019, The Midway has vowed to completely eliminate plastic water bottles.
To complement this switch, The Midway installed an exhibit by creative duo YuJo (Yustina Salnikova and Joel Dean Stockdill) on New Year’s Eve highlighting the negative effects of plastic pollution.
In total, The Midway expects to transition to more than 300,000 aluminum canned waters in 2019, preventing that amount of single-use plastic water bottles from washing out to sea. The move goes hand-in-hand with efforts made by the city of San Francisco encouraging venues large and small to switch to alternatives for their single-use plastic water bottles.
“As a cultural space, we believe we have an obligation to our audience to make responsible business choices,” says Kelsey Issel, arts director at The Midway Creative Complex. “What started as an art exhibition on plastic waste and ocean health snowballed into a commitment to omit plastic water bottles from our own bar to the tune of 300,000 per year. This evolution speaks to the power of the interdisciplinary nature of our space and how art and responsible business practices can affect significant social change.”
Lonely Whale partnered with The Midway to provide guidance in the organization’s switch from plastic to a sustainable alternative. Lonely Whale spearheaded the global Strawless Ocean movement, which permanently removes single-use plastic straws from establishments and markets, and in 2019, the organization is campaigning for the removal of single-use plastic water bottles.
"We at Lonely Whale are thrilled about the thought leadership Kelsey and The Midway have taken through their commitment to no longer use single-use plastic water bottles at the creative complex,” says Emma Riley, director of strategic partnerships for Lonely Whale. “This initiative supports the positive effort by San Francisco to eliminate single-use plastics within the city and is one of the first Generation Z- and Millennial-focused brands to make such an impactful, important commitment."
After an elaborate gala, laser show and fireworks, cleanup after NYE celebrations in Downtown Dubai took facility management crews only three hours to get the area back to its original state, Gulf News UAE reports.
A video shared along with the tweet illustrates glimpses of the developer’s facility management team hard at work, wearing bright neon vests and carrying broomsticks and trash bags. Some were spotted on street cleaning trucks to ensure that no trash was left behind.
In England, more than 1,000 members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) collected hundreds of bin bags full of trash off the streets NYE celebrations.
According to a Unilad report, the cleanup was organized by AMYA and designed to encourage people to take pride in community service, charitable work and keeping their towns and cities clean. Communities from Bolton, Leicester, Hartlepool, Croydon, Wimbledon, among others, took to the streets to help pick up litter and clean up their towns.
Now that all is said and done from the holiday celebrations, hats off to all the unsung heroes who worked hard to keep their cities clean and orderly.
Former Senior Editor, Waste360
Cristina Commendatore is the former Senior Editor for Waste360. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Connecticut. Before joining the Waste360 team, Cristina spent several years covering the trucking and transportation industry.
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