NYT: New York City Lags in Recycling


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Like a lot of New Yorkers I’m proud of the fact that, by walking or taking the subway almost everywhere, I consume far less gasoline than many residents of other cities. But this article suggests that smugness is not well-founded, as it’s also apparent that I’m probably generating much more non-recyclable waste than I could be. New York ranks sixteenth among twenty-seven cities in Siemens AG’ Green Cities Index and currently recycles just 15% of waste collected by the sanitation department, down from 23% a decade ago.

Numbers aside, the reporter’s own tally of non-recyclable waste products she collected after a week of take-out dining is sobering, and sadly familiar:

“I ended up with three plastic yogurt containers, a paper salad box, a paper cereal bowl, two Styrofoam plates, one plastic salad-dressing container and seven plastic food containers — the rigid ones with snap-on lids. Also, five plastic cups (each with a plastic straw), a paper cup with a plastic lid, a plastic water bottle and a plain old paper cup (it held milk for my cereal). Also, one plastic fork, one plastic knife and two compostable plastic spoons, which I threw out rather than composting.”

Read the full article here.



  1. In Seattle, we can recycle nearly all plastics as of a couple of years ago, and the city mandated either 100% recycled materials (not styrofoam) take-out containers or 100% compostable take-out containers. Plastic cups, metal and many plastic lids, and plastic utensils remain unrecyclable, but their volume is vastly less.

    We also get food (including meat) and yard waste picked up as a mixed bin. We don’t have the rat and urban critter problem that some cities have, apparently, as the raccoons never get into the stuff.

  2. It should read “Siemens AG”, not “AG Siemens”. This is not a first name, but the leagal from of the company, like Siemens Ltd. — you would not write Ltd. Siemens for that, would you?

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