Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway and Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty today announced the expansion of the City's recycling program to include for the first time the recycling of all rigid plastics, including toys, hangers, shampoo bottles, coffee cups and food containers. The expansion of plastics recycling – which begins today – is part of the City's Solid Waste Management Plan and is made possible, in part, through a partnership with SIMS Municipal Recycling whose recycling facilities are equipped to handle the broad range of plastic recycling.
The recycling expansion will result in more than 50,000 additional tons of waste a year no longer ending up in landfills at a savings to City taxpayers of almost $600,000 each year in export costs, and for rigid plastics, it is recommended that New Yorkers should rinse and recycle it. The City will also expand the organics recycling pilot under way in public schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan to residents in the Westerleigh neighborhood of Staten Island next month, to other neighborhoods this fall and to all City schools over the next two years. The food waste composting pilot cut the amount of garbage participating schools sent to landfills by up to 38 percent. Both programs are part of the City's effort to make recycling easier for New Yorkers. Earlier this year, in his State of the City speech, Mayor Bloomberg promised an expansion of the recycling program, renewing the Administration's commitment to doubling the City's recycling rate to 30 percent by 2017. The Mayor also was joined at the announcement at City Hall Park by Department of Sanitation Deputy Commissioner for Recycling and Sustainability Ron Gonen and President of SIMS North America Metals, Robert Kelman.
"Starting today, if it's a rigid plastic – any rigid plastic – recycle it," said Mayor Bloomberg. "There is no more worrying about confusing numbers on the bottom of the container. This means that 50,000 tons of plastics that we were sending to landfills every year will now be recycled and it will save taxpayers almost $600,000 in export costs each year."
"Today's announcement represents the largest expansion of our City's recycling efforts in 25 years," said Deputy Mayor Holloway. "We were able to take this step because of the major commitment we made to recycling as part of the City's Solid Waste Management Plan in 2006 – and this commitment continues today and will result in cost savings and 50,000 tons of plastics that we were sending to landfills every year now being recycled."
"New York City residents and the environment will benefit with our expanded plastics recycling program," said Sanitation Commissioner Doherty. "With many more plastics now going into the recycling bin as opposed to the trash can, residents won't have to think twice about what can and cannot be recycled. Add all your rigid plastics to your metal, plastic and glass recycling bin, and we will pick it up. We fully support this initiative, and look forward to expanding our growing recycling programs in the future."
"I would like to thank everyone in New York City that has been pushing for an expansion of our recycling program," said Deputy Commissioner Gonen. "I would also like to thank our partners at Sims and Bridget Anderson, Marni Aaron and Dave Hirschler on my staff who worked behind the scenes to make this expansion possible."
"With the expansion of plastics recycling we are making the New York City curbside program as inclusive as any in the nation," said Robert Kelman, President of SIMS North America Metals. "This is exactly the type of advance that was envisioned when we entered into this long term collaboration with the City and we remain hopeful that increasing the types of plastics recycled will lead to higher recycling rates for metal, paper and other recyclables. Sims Municipal Recycling is proud to be a part of this historic day and of our team for doing our part in helping to make this expansion possible."
With today's announcement, SIMS will transfer plastics that the City was previously unable to recycle to facilities that can handle a wide range of plastic recycling. Because it's cheaper to recycle than to ship waste to landfills the City will save hundreds of thousands of dollars as recyclables are diverted from landfills. Later this year, SIMS will bring their sorting and recycling technology to New York City when they open the largest household recycling plant in North America on the Sunset Park waterfront in Brooklyn. Because it takes 70 percent less energy to make plastic from recycled plastics rather than from raw materials, it's going to help us further reduce our city's carbon footprint and withy the expanded capacity to sort and recycle rigid plastics here in New York the city will not only become more sustainable but will also create 100 jobs at the new facility and have will include an education center to teach children about recycling. The plant will be powered by one of the largest solar installations in our city.
Coinciding with the expanded recycling, New Yorkers will receive mailers that describe the expansion of the recycling program and include easy-to-understand illustrations of what they can recycle and how. The City will also send decals to landlords and homeowners to replace the current labels on their recycling bins. The new program starts today, although the City won't begin enforcement until rules are adopted in July. The expansion of the recycling program is part of the City's comprehensive 20-year Solid Waste Management Plan and is the largest expansion of the City's recycling efforts since Mayor Koch launched curbside recycling 25 years ago.