April 15th, 2013
Improving the Ease and Convenience of Recycling
New York Considering Bottle Bill Expansion
- Summary: When the Bottle Bill was first created in 1983, it only covered beer, wine, and soda bottles. In 2009 this bill was expanded to include water bottle collection as well, but it still left out numerous other collectable plastics. After being discussed for years, the Bottle Bill has finally been expanded to encompass the collection of bottles used for flavored water, iced tea, energy drink, sports drink, and different juices. While New York City has a plastic recycle collection available to its citizens, the Bottle Bill is currently the only incentivized recycling initiative for residents. The Bill’s popularity has been well documented over its three decade existence, and almost everyone has either used the collection machines or seen them being used. Additionally, many jobless people actively look for these plastics that can be returned for money, which not only benefits them but also adds to the number of bottles that are eventually recycled. A member of the New York Public Interest Research Group has estimated that this expansion alone will increase the number of returnable bottles by fifteen percent, and generate an additional five million dollars annually for New York’s Environmental Protection Fund.
- Rational: This will be useful when arguing that the state is actively making strides in the right direction in regards to improving the ease of recycling. In addition, in a city where so many people live on tight budgets, this is convenient way to get some cash back for items that you will eventually have to dispose of anyway. The newspaper article cites reliable sources within different New York agencies, which will add credibility to the research paper. It is important to highlight this initiative because it has been successful over an extended period of time, and it will continue to generate millions of dollars for the city while cutting down on the amount of recyclables in our trash. This expansion was announced on March 11th of this year, which gives current details to the body of research.
- Source: “New York Considering Bottle Bill Expansion.” Accessed March 17, 2013. http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/external?sid=c5ef8d64-f5c4-4709-a309-f97a5bb96baf%40sessionmgr115&vid=6&hid=127.
New York’s Bottle Bill
- Summary: This summary of the Bottle Bill from the Department of Environmental Conservation provides key facts in demonstrating the effectives of this initiative. While the success of the Bottle Bill is widely known, the extent of this is not realized by many. The Bottle Bill, formally known as The New York State Returnable Container Act, has reduced roadside container litter by seventy percent. Since the Bill’s creation, over ninety billion containers have been recycled by these machines, which is equal to six million tons of material, and the collection of these plastics was at no additional costs to local governments. The Bottle Bill has saved over an estimated fifty-two million barrels of oil and avoided the addition of 200,000 metric tons of greenhouse gasses to our environment each year. It also emphasizes the importance of the recent adjustment to the Bill allowing for the collection of plastic water bottles, which were once a fraction of the market and now account for around twenty-three percent of the market.
- Rational: The statistics I found on this website are not only by far the most powerful and enlightening, but they are also from a trusted source. While almost everyone knows of the Bottle Bill, these statistics are surprising to even the most optimistic of people. These statistics who that the Bottle Bill was (and is) a success, and that while much has been accomplished, more can be done. It also shows how successful an initiative that incentivizes recycling can be, especially in such a socio-economically diverse city as New York. The Bottle Bill is an important part of New York’s recycling history, and how the government has attempted to engage the interest of the community, even if they use peoples personal wants as a catalyst. Additionally, the website provides a few hyperlinks to sites giving more information on this Bill, including FAQ’s, Litigation Updates, and the Dealer’s responsibilities among others.
- Source: “New York’s Bottle Bill, The Returnable Container Act (RCA).” Accessed March 17, 2013. http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/8500.html.
Top 6 Recycling and Reuse Initiatives from around the Globe
- Summary: This informative slideshow enlightens visitors to six different recycling and reuse initiatives from around the world that are currently experiencing different levels of success. These slides including recycling cooking oil in Barcelona, mandatory composting in San Francisco, stylized trash in Argentina, an illuminating artistic display in Warsaw that brings recycling awareness to citizens, reverse vending machines such as ‘The Dream Machine’, and a waste water park in Germany. While all of these initiatives are interesting, I will focus on two of the six primarily. San Francisco has become the exemplary city in the USA in regards to how much a community can recycle. San Francisco diverts over seventy-two percent of its waste from landfills, and this number will only increase with the introduction of green recycle bins that will collect compost from the community. The other interesting initiative is the possibility of introducing reverse vending recycle machines throughout the USA, similar to the machines that the Bottle Bill utilizes. Whether or not these innovative machines can achieve wide spread success is open to debate, but the idea of expanding upon one of New York’s most successful recycling programs is an promising idea.
- Rational: All the six initiatives are interesting and practical in their own ways, but the two relate most to this city and paper are the introduction of mandatory composting in San Francisco and the concept of the advanced reverse vending machines that could be integrated into the USA within the year. While it is unlikely New York can attain the same level of recycling efficiency as San Francisco, some of their collection initiatives could be modified of imitated in New York. Since New York is much more densely populated than San Francisco, the notion of different colored recycle bins might be impractical, but the idea that each apartment complex that houses more than a certain amount of people being required to have a few bins for tenants to voluntarily recycle different materials is feasible. The reverse vending machines (similar to the ones used by the Bottle Bill) will almost certainly be presented nationwide within the next year. Instead of simply returning the person a small amount of cash in return for their recyclables, the company in charge of this innovation wants to create a point-like system that can be accumulated and then turned into cash, prizes, or various credits. The reward system is very popular in marketing because of its popularity, and this type of machine could entice a larger population of people that do not use the Bottle Bill’s machines.
- Source: “Top 6 Recycling and Reuse Initiatives from around the Globe.” Accessed March 18, 2013. http://inhabitat.com/top-6-recycling-and-reuse-initiatives-from-around-the-globe/olipot-in-action-photo-2/?extend=1.
- Summary: The Dream Machine is the name of the innovative reverse vending machine mentioned in the ‘Top 6 Recycling and Reuse Initiatives from around the Globe’. The Dream Machine is a program sponsored by PepsiCo in collaboration with WM Green Ops, which is a subsidiary of Waste Management. They plan to put two different types of collection bins out into the public: the first being a plain bin that is will return the recycler nothing in return for their plastics, and the other being a self described ‘intelligent kiosk’ that will allocate points to the user for their plastic deposits. There points can be redeemed for various different rewards, including prizes and cash. Additionally, PepsiCo is pledging different amounts of money to various organizations if the public can meet certain recycling milestones. The company hopes to increase the USA’s beverage recycling rate from its current thirty-four percent rate to a fifty percent rate by 2018.
- Rational: Because the Bottle Bill has been so successful over the past thirty years, it makes sense to see analyze what could make this even more efficient. The Dream Machine Initiative also shows that not only the government and people are making strides to increase recycling rates, but also corporations that are reliant on plastics. While it is still unknown how the Dream Machine will interact with its users and what type of rewards they will get, the notion of depositing solid waste in an exciting manner and receive some form of compensation or prize is appealing to a wide range of people across the globe. There are currently no Dream Machines in New York City (the nearest is in Westchester) but this will surely change in the upcoming years. There is not much data on The Dream Machine because of it being in the early stages of its dissemination, but all indicators point to this initiative becoming a successful recycling outlet that can garner wide spread popularity for a number of different popular reasons.
- Source: “Dream Machine Locator.” Accessed March 18, 2013. http://www.dreammachinelocator.com/about.php.
History of NYC Recycling
- Summary: This summary from the NYC’s government website details recycling in New York City since the foundation of the New York City Department of Street Cleaning in 1881. This department would under go many name changes and eventually become what we know today as the Department of Sanitation. It details where the City’s solid waste used to go, and the implementation of different recycling initiatives (both successful and unsuccessful) over the last century. It goes into detail about the passing of Local Law 19, which mandated recycling within New York City, as well as the informing the reader on different local landfills and recycle plans. Different initiatives are mentioned including Theodore Roosevelt’s recycling strides, the Bottle Bill, and the beginning of the government actively collecting resident’s recyclables. It does not just highlight the good points of recycling in the city, but also mentions the recycling developments that were not beneficial. Most noticeably of these being the suspension of recycling collection during the first few years of the twenty-first century.
- Rational: It is imperative to have multiple sources on the history of recycling in New York City for this paper; after all, if the paper is to propose ways to improve our current recycling state, the reader must have a basic background on the topic. I found the initiatives that in hindsight were not popular or successful to be just as interesting as those that were, and discovered through my searches that finding unsuccessful ideas is substantially more difficult than finding the successful ones. The paper will mention in detail how the city stopped the collection of recyclables in 2002 and the outcry that this caused in the public, which lead to its eventual renewal a few years later. This website also has links to historical PSA’s, advertisements, city recycling laws, detailed reports, as well as its documentation on recycling. The paper will also compare the ease of recycling at different intervals to what it currently is today.
- Source: “History of NYC Recycling.” Accessed March 18, 2013. http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/resources/history.shtml.
Optimizing recycling in all of New York City’s neighborhoods
- Summary: This paper is a New York centric analysis on recycling in the city. It contains a brief history of New York City’s solid waste disposal, with an emphasis on recycling since Bloomberg’s infamous decision to halt most recycling initiatives in 2002. It also breaks down the different recycling percentages through different filters such as diversion, education level, and economic standing. Additional statistics include waste generation rates within the city, the REAP (recycling education, awareness, and participation) index, and correlation and regression analysis. The latter of the additional statistical analysis very useful in that it is a study that draws conclusions from all the information gathered. The paper also focuses on the participation rates in different neighborhoods and sanitation districts, trying to draw conclusions on why different areas perform better on recycling than others. The third section also details different programs that the city has introduced in the last decade to attempt to increase citywide recycling participation.
- Rational: Perhaps one of the most central studies for the body of this paper, Optimizing Recycling in New York City is a core focus of this paper. Because this paper is so New York City specific, the statistics are extremely relevant to the central idea of my research paper. Each of the first eleven sections in this paper could be used (however briefly) in my final paper. While I will try to use as many as possible, I will certainly use the sections that talk of city programs to stimulate more recycling, the different socio-economic and neighborhood recycling rates, and the authors policy recommendations on the topic. I will try to gauge the feasibility of these suggestions and compare them to other policy reform suggestions I find. While I will enlighten the readers on the current state of recycling in New York City, it is imperative that I read of ways to improve on the current system, whether or not that means small changes or large overhauls.
- Source: “Optimizing Recycling in all of New York City’s Neighborhood’s.” Accessed March 17, 2013. http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?sid=c5ef8d64-f5c4-4709-a309-f97a5bb96baf%40sessionmgr115&vid=5&hid=127.
Extended Plastics Responsibility: Producers as Reluctant Stewards
- Summary: The Extended Plastics Responsibility paper is relevant in many different ways when trying to discover the ways of improving the ease of recycling within New York City. Within the paper the author details the different plastic classifications and how that affects what can and can’t be recycled. Seeing that only classification one and two plastics can be recycled, what are citizens to do with the others? And can we propose a way to collect the other types of recyclables, including Styrofoam, which the paper highlights as an ongoing issue. The author specifically advocates for producer-focused policies, which is a shift from most other proposed solutions that call for government organizations to intervene. In addition, the author mentions that cities such as San Francisco collect all plastics, not just one and two classified recyclables. The paper also goes into detail about glass collection, which is not mentioned nearly as frequently as plastics are, but are also important to recycle.
- Rational: This paper raises multiple aspects of recycling that I have not found in other research, and it is also focused on New York. The paper also highlights San Francisco, which I plan to research and include in my paper because it is the most advanced recycling city in the USA, and perhaps the world. Even though the population and layout of San Francisco is much more conducive to large scale recycling, New York City should be able to copy some of the initiatives that have been successful. While it may not be practical to function on a zero waste policy that the author mentions, New York is definitely not functioning on maximum recycling efficiency. And while I will primarily be focusing on government initiatives that increase recycling ease and efficiency, extending producer responsibility of recyclables in the US will also certainly be included. Government initiatives forcing producers to change and adapt will also be explored.
- Source: “Extended Plastics Responsibility: Producers as Reluctant Stewards.” Accessed April 15, 2013. zotero://attachment/60/.
Garbage and Recycling
- Summary: The Opposing Viewpoints Series book on Garbage and Recycling contains copious of relevant and in depth information on these topics. Contrasting to most of the web sources, the Garbage and Recycling book contains a wider breadth of interconnected information. The first chapter of the book is titled ‘How Do Political and Social Systems Effect Garbage Disposal’, and it contains many sub-sections (view points) on this topic including analysis on cost efficiency and policy support. The second chapter is titled ‘Is Recycling Environmentally and Economically Successful?’, the latter half of which must be integrated with the proposed new innovations in the recycling process. The last chapter that contains information that is relevant to finding ways to increase recycling in New York City is chapter four, which is titled ’Can New Technologies Solve Waste Problems’. This part compares and contrasts the different ways of solid waste disposals including landfills and incinerators, which are important to bolster different proposed recycling initiatives and their practicality and responsibility.
- Rational: This book will provide unique element to the research on improving the ease of recycling in New York City. Seeing as my research on what would happen post-recycling collection was somewhat limited because it is not the central focus of the paper, this book provides a good background on a facet of the process of which I did not have much knowledge of. Even so, the opening chapter is the one that I will focus on most because I am very concerned about how the government will continue to try and stimulate more environmentally responsible initiatives. This book is also interesting because within each chapter there are separate sections written by different authors with different perspectives, hence the series title ‘Opposing Viewpoints’. One of the most interesting points in this chapter talks about how mandatory recycling initiatives promote environmental awareness, and what might result if the government were to enforce more mandatory recycling programs.
- Source: Young, Mitchell. Opposing Viewpoints: Garbage and Recycling. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.