12 thoughts on “Other Cities Face Trash Crises, but NYC is Navigating China’s Recycling Import Ban

  1. This is very encouraging, positive news. One massive problem that I think prevents us from reaching the zero waste target is that a very large portion of people leaving in the city still is very ignorant as to what and how to recycle. Campaigns to inform people on all logistics around recycling have been unfortunatley very ineffective so far. I find myself constantly having to tell new roommates and colleagues that paper and cardboard go into a different bag, and thus are collected by a different company, or that dirty napkins are not recyclable. Information regarding all this should not be a junk mail send out. It should be a clearly laid out, comprehensive, impossible to miss citywide campaign. The MTA has used city and state funds to ad to their stations new vessels of advertising (the the revenues of which goes into whose pockets?). Why can’t the city work out a deal to place ads on these unmissable devices with information regarding how to effectively recycle? Or on the LED screens of the emergency power/telefon towers spread throughout the boroughs, instead of trivia and random graphics? It is true that Americans are used to choosing the fastest, least effort involving solution around every matter they’d rather not think about. But that is changing a little bit, especially in New York City. I believe residents of this city would be willing to take this communal effort seriously if it was presented in a serious manner that addressed all questions, not some cartoony, look-at-it-at-your-own-will panflet. Not to mention the DSNY’s web pages on this topic, poorly designed and full of broken or outdated links. Vamos New York! let’s get all parties involved to do their part well.

  2. That article you linked to about the city switching from single-stream to dual-stream recycling was about Kingston, not NYC. NYC hasn’t had single-stream, and in fact, cancelled plans to switch to it because of the China situation.

  3. Who fact checks this stuff before publication? Plastics in landfills do not produce methane. Only rotting organic matter produces methane.

    By the way, the Sims contract is not a 20 year contract. Rather it is a contract with an initial term of 23 years, to account for the three years of construction prior to operations starting, with two renewal terms. The first renewal term is 7 years to make up the balance of 30 years and the second renewal is for 10 years, for a total of 40 years. As long as Sims meets their contractual obligations the renewals are automatic.

    Also, the SWMP had absolutely nothing to do with the Sims deal other than that it is the public document where it was reported along with everything else DSNY was proposing to do. The RFP that resulted in the Sims deal was entirely the idea of the Recycling Program’s former director, as well as the entire structure of the contract that followed. And the only reason that it was ever approved was that Bloomberg was still trying to recover politically from taking the former Commissioner of Sanitation’s advice to drop MGP, because of his misinterpretation of the results of the new set of MGP contracts that the Recycling Office had recently solicited post-9/11, wherein the market risk for contractors was removed by having DSNY accept all of the market risk, as well as the benefit. This made the contracts look more expensive when in fact that was not necessarily the case.

    This article suffers greatly from the limited knowledge possessed by those tapped for its content.

  4. Does the 50-percent number of “not ending up in landfills” account for what Sims does with the recycling? Other articles have pointed out that cities send their recycling to local facilities, that then gets sent by them to landfills anyway. So is 50% of what we send to Sims actually recycled?

  5. The city will not switch to single-stream recycling in 2020. The article cited is from 2017. The situation has changed since then, as the article mentioned, so the city scrapped those plans. Single-stream results in more recyclables captured, but also more contamination, which makes selling the material as a commodity difficult.

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  7. China never imported more than 28% of recyclable paper and their imports of paper did not begin until the late 1990’s when their new paper mills came on line. They imported for some years up to half of PET and HDPE but those imports started dying off a decade ago. They never imported glass. As for metals – yes, scrap metals have long flowed to China, Turkey and other countries along with being processed in this country. But as trading patterns changed, those flows also slowed down.
    For that matter, millions of tons of old corrugated containers – cardboard boxes – continue to flow to Chinese mills. The tariffs are slowing those imports down, but the mills need the long fibers.
    The import ban clearly negatively affected mixed paper and mixed plastic – the heart of a residential recycling program. Entrepreneurs are seeing opportunities with both. On October 1, in Wapakoneta Ohio, a mill mill opens that will produce container board for boxes. Mixed paper is two thirds of the mills raw material input. Other new mills are also being built. At the same time, 18 new facilities to process plastic are in the operation, building or planning stages. The Chinese government has stated it will allow imports of pellets or resin made form recycled plastic.

  8. Pingback: Other Cities Face Trash Crises, but NYC is Navigating China’s Recycling Import Ban | Global Recycler

  9. As a visitor to NY, I’m amazed by the amount of trash and recycling created that could be avoided by use of a dishwasher. Why do most cafes use disposables even when dining in? I find myself longing for tea served in ceramic mugs. Cake served on ceramic plates with. Food eaten with reusable metal knife and forks. I know there are space issues and that makes the use of single-use very attractive. But surely not having to store huge boxes of recyclables would allow space enough for some shelves and a dishwasher.

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