NY Daily News
by Jennifer Fermino
You might as well just toss that paper into the plastic bin at work.
The city’s already abysmal commercial recycling rate has plummeted to as low as 19%, according to a new study that will be released Friday to coincide with Earth Day.
That’s well below the national average of 34%, and 10 points lower than the city’s own average of 29% in a 2004 study, the report from the environmental coalition Transform Don’t Trash found.
The group, a mix of activists and unions who work in the garbage biz, analyzed data that the private carting companies are required to report to the state and found some of the biggest haulers barely attempt to recycle.
Mr. T Carting, one of the biggest trash companies in the city, reported only recycling about 11% of what it hauls, according to the report.
Ernie Waight, an ex-sanitation worker, said it’s an open, dirty secret that the companies don’t recycle.
“They don’t recycle glass, bottles or cans,” he said. “That’s been going on for 25 years, the whole time I’ve been in the industry.”
Adam Collison, who owns two bars and a restaurant in Queens and Brooklyn, said one hauler told him not to bother even separating his recyclables.
“All of our wine bottles, all of our liquor bottles weren’t being recycled,” he said. “Now we’re putting out our bottles out for people who are happy to take the five cents,” he said.
Justin Wood, a researcher of the study from New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, said rates are low because — unlike residential recycling handled by the city — the private industry hasn’t been incentivized to make changes.
Mayor de Blasio has promised to reduce trash taken to landfills by 90% by 2030.
“While we don’t have control over private waste haulers, we know the commercial sector can and wants to do better — and that’s why the city has been actively working to gain the regulatory tools to achieve these goals,” said a spokeswoman for the mayor.