America Recycles Day
Making a Difference
By John J. Doherty, Commissioner of Sanitation
On Tuesday, November 15th, America Recycles Day—an initiative of the national organization Keep America Beautiful—will be celebrated across the land. It’s a good opportunity to have fun and participate in the day’s many events to promote recycling. It is also a great reminder that recycling should always be one of our top priorities.
Let’s begin by saying that in the United States we’re generating too much garbage. In New York City, with a population of nearly 8.4 million plus countless millions more visitors, households, businesses and institutions generate more than 7 million tons of waste every year. And disposing just the waste we collect from households and institutions costs the City of New York more than $300 million every year. In fact, we estimate that the city’s entire solid waste system creates 1.66 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually, representing 3 percent of the city’s total GHG emissions.
These staggering figures point to the enormous impact discarded material has on our communities and our environment. Clearly, we need to recycle more and reduce what we throw away.
In 1986, recycling—as we know it in NYC—began as a voluntary program and became mandatory three years later. Today, the Department of Sanitation collects nearly 600,000 tons of paper, metal, glass and plastic recyclables every year, and the commercial sector collects another 1.3 million tons. However, we know we are only recycling about half as much as we could.
After taking steps toward waste prevention—such as taking reusable bags to the grocery store and donating used clothes instead of throwing them away—recycling is one of the easiest ways you can make a difference. By recycling at home, in the workplace and wherever there is a recycling bin, you will help significantly lower carbon emissions associated with extracting raw materials, manufacturing products and waste disposal.
So, what should New Yorkers recycle?
New Yorkers should recycle paper, cardboard, metal, glass and plastic bottles and jugs as shown in the following chart:
- Shredded paper
- Phone books & paperbacks
- Paper bags
- Pizza boxes
- Post-it notes
- Kitchen towels, toilet paper tubes
- Cardboard egg carton
- Smooth cardboard
- Pads & file folders
- Flattened corrugated cardboard
- Junk mail
BEVERAGE CARTONS, BOTTLES,
CANS AND METAL ITEMS
- Milk & juice cartons
- Plastic bottles
- Glass bottles & jars
- Metal cans
- Dried out paint cans
- Aerosol cans
- Household metal
- Wire hangers
- Aluminum Foil
- Aluminum wrap and trays
- Detergent jugs
For more details about how to recycle or donate materials, go to our website, www.nyc.gov/sanitation.
We’ve also placed brightly colored public space recycling bins around the city’s streets and parks to
make recycling ‘on the move’ possible and convenient for everyone.
So, to those who would like to do something to protect the environment, but don’t have the time to volunteer, I say: Just make sure you recycle. By making recycling a daily habit, you’ll make a big difference.
Let’s celebrate America Recycles Day by recommitting ourselves to incorporating recycling into our daily lives and teaching our children by example.