Mayor de Blasio has proposed ambitious reforms to address some of the problems caused by the 6 million tons of trash New Yorkers produce each year. But the way to a better waste system will not be easy.
Mayor de Blasio wants to spare residents the hassle of separating paper from glass, metal and plastic. The move will likely boost recycling but its impact on city finances, commercial carters and total waste levels is hard to predict.
New York is diverting more and more organic material like food waste from landfills to composting projects. The big challenge might not be collecting the stuff, but figuring out where to put it all.
Seattle, Boulder and Ljubljana (that’s in Slovenia) have employed approaches that New York City might find instructive as it chases Mayor de Blasio’s “zero waste to landfills” goal.
From upstate Seneca County to the banks of the Delaware River, people who live near landfills and trash-burning energy plants are parsing Mayor de Blasio’s “zero waste” pledge—and taking action to reduce the impact of our trash on their lives.
The scene at the former Fresh Kills landfill, of beautiful scenery built about decades of bad trash policy, gives reason for optimism that the city will find a way to deal with the rising costs of managing waste. But it will take a change in mindset, not just policy.
A spokesman for the industry that picks up commercial waste in the city, which is under fire over labor practices and environmental impact, says private carters have a record to be proud of.