When you put a good businessman in charge of a major city like New York City, there is the dangers that he might not realize that a city is not a business intended to make profits.Today it becomes clear that the reeducation of Mayor Bloomberg took 11 years and the city is still behind the recycling level it was before he took over.
When Mayor Bloomberg took over the day to day running of New York City, he cancelled all recycling programs because he thought their bottom line was in the red. Eventually he accepted the fact that paper recycling was suffering because there was actually theft of the paper put out for hauling by the city – so it was clearly profitable to move them to the recycler. He gave in, and only papers were recycled.
Then he was told that metal and plastic containers have to be collected separately because there was no landfill space and hauling them out of State was a bigger loss then collecting them – so he decided to collect them in separate containers but they were never sorted out to become primary material for a world-wide growing recycling industry.
Oh well – the latest news tell us that he decided before ending his third term in office to collect plastic. We still are not convinced that he saw the “City-Light” – that is the fact that running a city is a service and not a business.
New York Times Editorial – April 30, 2013.
The Mayor Rethinks Recycling
Published on-line: April 29, 2013
On recycling in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has come a long way. After taking office 11 years ago, Mr. Bloomberg eliminated a major chunk of the city’s recycling program to save money. Many New Yorkers were outraged. He was, they said, littering the earth as well as missing a chance to convert waste to energy.
Related: City Room: City Expands Recycling Program to Include Hard Plastics (April 24, 2013)
He has since become a passionate convert. With about 20,000 tons of garbage hauled from the city every day, Mr. Bloomberg has been working hard recently to restore the city’s recycling program to its pre-2002 levels. On Wednesday, he announced that any rigid plastics including toys, yogurt cups, food containers and such can finally go in clear recycling bags. It is the city’s biggest expansion in recycling in more than two decades.
A day later, he announced that 100 restaurants in the city, ranging from the sophisticated Le Bernardin to the boisterous Chipotle eateries, have promised to start reducing their food waste by 50 percent. Some of it will be donated to food kitchens or charities like City Harvest. But a lot will go to commercial composting centers outside the city. There, the discarded leeks and potato peels can be turned into energy or compost that, ideally, could help farmers produce more leeks and potatoes.
Tackling organic waste is a big task. Every year, the city adds mountains of watermelon rinds, coffee grounds and other organic plate scrapings to the waste stream. Most of it goes to landfills where it festers and sends methane pollution into the atmosphere. As alternatives, city officials are experimenting with organic recycling at 68 schools and one Manhattan apartment building. Green markets across the city accept bags of leftovers, and a new system of curbside recycling of organic garbage is scheduled to start soon in Staten Island.
The city’s recycling rate has yet to reach the pre-Bloomberg level of 20 percent. But the mayor wants the city to reuse 70 percent of its waste by 2030. That’s a big challenge for his successors, but at least these latest efforts finally move in the right direction.