Recycling in New York City is no more expensive than trash removal, and will become cheaper in just a few years, according to a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The study matters for New York, because recycling had been a controversial issue in the early years of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's tenure. He initially stopped curbside recycling for several recyclables in a cost-savings effort, but in 2004 reversed the decision.
Now, according to NRDC, recycling costs no more than trash disposal (ie, burying it in a landfill) and it amounts to a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. (Transportation, which produces carbon dioxide by burning fuel to move garbage, and landfilling, which produces methane as waste decomposes, are two large contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.)
Bloomberg, since those early days in office, has become one of the greenest mayors in the U.S., thanks largely to his PlaNYC, a blueprint for making the city more sustainable by 2030. The early black eye the multibillionaire businessman got from his recycling initiative is largely forgotten.
This study confirms that Mayor Bloombergs and the City Councils decision to restore full recycling in 2004 was not only good for the environment, but also good for the citys bottom line, said Eric A. Goldstein, New York urban program director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which commissioned the study. This report also shows that as trash export fees continue to escalate, expanded recycling here will further lower the citys skyrocketing sanitation costs.
The study has implications for the rest of the country because it is one of the first of its kind. Further, the economic factors that make recycling economically sensible in New York City escalating costs of exporting trash to rural landfills and the increasingly strong market for recycled materials are likely to be similar in other cities, particularly in the Northeast.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.