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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Monday, September 25, 2017

The City of New York is spending more on collecting and exporting recyclables than regular waste, as per a report released last Thursday. The New York City Independent Budget Office, a fiscal watchdog organization backed by the city, found that the city projected the total amount of solid waste would grow over a period of 20 years, as the population rose. According to the strategy, which was set up 10 years ago, the amount of recyclables would also expand. The city entered into long-term contracts at that time, based on those predictions, hoping to save money.

Now halfway through the plan, it is being realized that the waste has not grown and the daily tonnage has remained steady notwithstanding the growing population. Despite the fact that the city has expanded the types of plastics that can be recycled, the total amount of material recycled has not increased enough to make the process more cost efficient.  

A variety of reasons are given for the constant level of trash, including lighter-weight packaging in consumables, change in consumers habits, and more scavengers collecting recyclables from curbsides. Most notable, is the reduced amount of paper tonnage recycled now, as online reading has grown exponentially. Newspaper recycling has plummeted 61% from 2005 to 2013, according to the report which was written by Daniel Huber. Ironically, paper is the only recyclable the city makes money on. Due to the decline in paper recyclables, overall recycling in NYC has become less efficient, especially since separate trucks are used to pick up the recyclables.

The Department of Sanitation handles an average of 12,000 tons of waste every day. About the same amount is collected privately, with NYC producing a total of 24,000 tons of garbage daily. 

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the city is switching to a method where all recyclables including paper, metal, plastic and glass, would go into the same bin. This hopes to increase the amount of recyclables, bringing down the cost per ton.

A spokesman for the Department of Sanitation said that the 20-year plan has “helped move New York City in a much more sustainable direction.” He said that there was no way to predict that mobile technology “would significantly reduce the amount of newspaper that had been projected to be in our waste and recycling stream.”

By:  Hadassa Kalatizadeh