New York City has unveiled a multi-pronged plan to divert all its waste from landfills and incineration by 2030.
The plan, included in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s OneNYC report, calls on the the nation’s largest city to expand its current organics collection program and provide single-stream recycling collection service to all residents by 2020. It also proposes a pay-as-you-throw program, or, as the City calls it, a “save-as-you-throw program.”
“In New York City, implementing a Save-As-You-Throw program that would reward those who waste less and recycle more could reduce waste generation by as much as 30 percent,” the report states. “The program would represent the largest potential contribution toward our Zero Waste goals.”
Becoming a “zero waste” city won’t be easy, the report notes. New York’s recycling rate in 2014 was 15.4 percent.
In its attempt to divert all material from landfill by 2030, New York City will pair its incentive-based recycling and trash collection model with a series of other changes.
A switch from the city’s current dual-stream recycling collection to a single-stream method is in the works. Paper products, metal, glass and rigid plastics account for 32 percent of the city’s waste stream, the report states.
By 2020, residents will be able to put all recyclables in one bin for processing. The City also says it will push for products made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled content to increase demand for recycled materials.
The City will also work to expand its current pilot organics collection program and capacity. According to the report, organics account for 31 percent of the waste stream and neither access nor capacity presently exists to process it all.
While the City will continue using compost facilities in upstate New York and Connecticut, as well its own operation in Staten Island, it will aim to “develop additional capacity” through new partnerships and the use of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) to process food waste. All told, the City says those plants have the capacity to handle 8 percent of the municipality’s food scraps through anaerobic digestion.
In addition to its recent ban on expanded polystyrene products, the City says it supports additional bans and measures, including those targeting plastic bags, arguing the bags are “a major component of street litter and can clog storm drains, jam the machinery at the City’s recycling sorting facility and end up in New York Harbor.”
The New York zero waste effort follows initiatives in several other major U.S. cities. San Francisco has a 2020 goal of achieving zero waste, and Chicago has a similar long-term goal. The City of Los Angeles has a goal of reaching a 90 percent diversion rate by 2025. Seattle is also aiming for a 70 percent recycling rate by that time.
Note: The article has been clarified to state the report endorses additional “bans and measures” on a variety of products, including plastic bags. While an ordinance is currently being considered that would install a fee on plastic bags, the OneNYC report does not specifically cite support for the ordinance or a separate ban.