With the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day approaching the city is proposing a greatly expanded recylcing program.
The proposed legislation hopes to divert more than eight thousand tons of plastic every year away from landfills and incinerators.
Speaker Christine Quinn and other city officials have proposed an idea for the expansion of the residential recycling program. Regulations were last modified in 1989, when the bill was first introduced.
"We're incredibly excited to be introducing a package of bills that will dramatically expand and overhaul the way we recycle here in New York City," said Speaker Quinn.
The city's original comprehensive residential recycling law, Local Law 19, was the first of its kind in the U.S. It required recyclables to be collected for every residential building in New York City as well as mandating collection from every commercial building.
But with the amount of waste produced in the city having changed in the last 20 years, an upgrade is long overdue.
"As consumers and businesses generate more waste each year, this legislation will help make New York City a leader in recycling," said Council Member Karen Koslowitz. "More specifically, we need to ensure that yard waste will be composted as opposed to being added to our already overcrowded landfills".
Among the new proposals, the city hopes to build upon the laws that are already in place, specifically fines for improper residential recycling.
Currently, fines for residents have been set at the same amount for large and commercial buildings as well as single family homes. The new legislation will split the fines into tiers and will give first time offenders an opportunity to attend a recycling workshop in lieu of payment. A specific guide would about the program would be distributed to the public.
"This package of bills, if enacted as drafted and aggressively implemented, could give a jolt of electricity to the city's recycling program," said Eric Goldstein, the New York City Environment Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Since the closure of the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island in 2002, the city spends more than $300 million each year disposing garbage in places as far as Ohio and West Virginia. With the development of the new Sims recycling facility in Sunset Park, Brooklyn recyclables will be processed here in the city, reducing our carbon footprint.
Some of the proposed initiatives and improvements.
- Expand plastic recycling to include all rigid plastic containers, including items such as yogurt tubs, take out containers and medicine bottles
- The Department of Sanitation will be required to place 300 new recycling bins around the city on over the next three years
- One city-sponsored household hazardous waste collection event in each borough every year
- Establishment of a voluntary manufacturer and retailer take-back program for unwanted household paint, which makes up to 50 percent of household hazardous waste
- Every school within the Department of Education would have to designate a recycling coordinator and provide recycling receptacles at entrances, lunch rooms, and each classroom
- Establishment of a new leaf and yard waste composting facility in Queens or Brooklyn.