Managing waste and recycling in New York City is no easy feat. And with difficult items like textile waste and e-waste entering the waste streams, there is a need for innovative programs and initiatives to help ensure that these hard-to-manage materials make it to their proper destinations.
One of the entities rising to the challenge of combating e-waste and textile waste is the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY), which recently collected 10 million pounds of used clothing, towels and linens via its re-fashioNYC program and 10 million pounds of e-waste via its e-cycleNYC program.
“We are very thankful to our partners, Housing Works and Electronic Recyclers International Inc. (ERI), and the New York City residents, who enabled us to reach this milestone,” said New York City Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia in a statement. “With more than 430,000 residents having access to re-fashioNYC, and 2.3 million with access to e-cycleNYC, together, we have given 10 million pounds of textiles a new life, and ensured 10 million pounds of potentially harmful electronics are recycled correctly.”
The re-fashioNYC program, which is a collaboration between DSNY and nonprofit Housing Works, places collection bins inside approved residential buildings with 10 or more units, office buildings, commercial businesses and schools and institutions. Once the bins are full, the materials are collected and put to reuse and the proceeds go toward Housing Works to support its charitable efforts.
“Ten million pounds of materials being diverted from landfills is a huge accomplishment, and Housing Works is honored to have been a part of it,” Andrew Greene, Housing Works senior vice president of development, marketing and entrepreneurial businesses, said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing that amount increase substantially through the re-fashioNYC program. Housing Works is here to not only to see the end of AIDS as an epidemic but to always be a part of the global solution! We want consumers to be conscious of the world they live in, which includes recycling and reusing.”
The e-cycleNYC program, a public-private partnership between DSNY and ERI that’s funded by electronics manufacturers and free to taxpayers and participating buildings, makes e-waste recycling simple and safe by providing approved room cleanouts for buildings with 10 or more units, storage bins for buildings with 100 or more units and outdoor e-waste recycling events for buildings with 250 or more units. When the bins are full, the materials are collected and recycled.
The program also helps residents comply with a New York State law, which states that residents may no longer place electronic items into the trash because they often contain lead, mercury and cadmium, all of which are harmful components that should be kept out of landfills.
“We are honored to have co-created this constructive collaboration and this historic and successful partnership with the great city of New York and forward-thinking manufacturers such as Samsung, LG and VIZIO,” Electronic Recyclers International Chairman and CEO John Shegerian said in a press release. “We have now collected more than 10 million pounds of electronic waste from New York City residents for responsible, effective recycling, and that’s a huge accomplishment. Plus, the program now serves more than 2.3 million New Yorkers—more than a quarter of the New York City population. As someone who was born and raised here, it’s a humbling and rewarding experience to be able to help so many in our city do the right thing and responsibly recycle their e-waste—the fastest growing waste stream in the world today—and keep millions of pounds of toxic electronics out of New York landfills!”