Magazine article E Magazine

New York City Reneges on Recycling

Magazine article E Magazine

New York City Reneges on Recycling

Article excerpt

New York City's recycling program has suffered the biggest setback since its inception in 1989. In mid-June, at the 11th hour in budget negotiations, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council agreed to suspend the collection of plastics for one year and glass for two years, saving the city $45 million for the next two fiscal years (paper and metal collection will continue). "The recycling program is not, with the exception of paper, saving the ecology of the world very much," Bloomberg said sardonically in February. "And it is very expensive." Only a court intervention could countermand Bloomberg's order.

But the costs of implementing this yo-yo approach to recycling won't come cheap either, critics charge. Money must be spent to reeducate the public on new recycling laws. The Bloomberg Administration embarrassed itself by taking a hard line on improperly sorted material, then changing its mind at the last minute. "The irony is, the mayor thinks he's saving millions," says Suzanne Shepard of the New York chapter of the Sierra Club, "but this will cost millions too." The disruption to New Yorkers' waste-disposal practices will only hinder recycling in the long run, others fear. "We've worked hard to create a climate of recycling and conservation," says Vicente "Panama" Alba, a delegate with Laborers Local 108, which represents recycling workers. "All of that is being undone. It's going to take years to recuperate from this. …

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