PlaNYC Initiative #3: Incentivizing Recycling Timeline

PlaNYC Initiative #3: Incentivizing Recycling

1776: The patriots invent the first form of metal recycling when they melt down King George III’s statue and turn them into bullets (

1866: The New York City Metropolitan Board of Health “declares war on garbage” by prohibiting New York City residents from leaving dead animals, garbage, and ash on the streets (

1881: New York City’s government creates the New York City Department of Street Cleaning, which targets cleaning litter and garbage in New York City (

1895: George Waring, the Commissioner of City’s Department of Street Cleaning, enacts a waste management plan that includes a law which requires mandatory separation of household waste into 3 components: ash, rubbish, and food waste. This regulation helps to promote recycling (

1918: Recycling is brought to an end after World War 1. This is largely due to labor and material shortages as well as the reinstatement of ocean dumping. This effectively eliminates incentives for recycling (

1933: The New York City Department of Street Cleaning is renamed the Department of Sanitation (

1936: New York City’s Department of Sanitation creates the New York Sanitation Police force. Currently, these officers have at least two years of experience with the Sanitation Department and 600 hours of police training. They are responsible for enforcing recycling regulations and handling violations such as littering, mixing recyclables with non-recyclables, and dumping of toxic wastes (Peake).

1982: The New York State Returnable Container Law is enacted. Also known as the Bottle Bill, this law is created to decrease litter, reduce strain on solid waste facilities and encourage recycling. Customers are paid 5 cents for each bottle returned. 26 years since its enactment this bill has resulted in a reduction of roadside litter by 70%, 90 billion recycled containers and eliminated 200,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases each year (

1986: Voluntary recycling programs begin in New York City at the beginning of the year (

In July, recycling becomes mandatory after Local Law 19 is passed (

1988: At the end of the year, over two and one-half million tons of aluminum waste was generated, with approximately 31.7 percent of the waste recovered for reuse. Aluminum recycling becomes a target of state and municipal legislation “either in the form of container deposit bills or trash separation ordinances” (Allen, Davis).

1989: Local Law 19 passes, making recycling mandatory in New York City. This is part of a larger recycling program initiated during the same year (

1990: The New York City Department of Sanitation notices New York City’s poorest areas are least likely to recycle.  They contemplate setting up more recycling banks in Harlem and the Bronx, but the residents are opposed to it because they are afraid of the foul smells and noises (Gold).

1991: American consumers save around $4 billion through use of cents-off coupons.  This wide coupon use sparks interest and research to create effective coupon incentives for recycling aluminum (Allen, Davis).

1992-1996: During this time, there was the initiation and expansion of Christmas tree collection as well as fall leaves for composting. This results in a 12.8 % diversion rate (Farrell, Hirst 17).

1993: Jeff Allen and Duane Davis conduct a study on the effectiveness of incentivizing recycling.  They offer coupon incentives for those who participate in recycling aluminum.  They discover income, gender, and occupation are the most prominent demographic variables associated with recyclers in the study (Allen, Davis).

1994: The New York City Department of Sanitation’s annual comparison of the per ton cost of recycling and the per ton cost of refuse collection and disposal show that the per ton recycling costs ($343) are higher than the per ton cost of refuse collection and disposal (DSM Environmental).

1997: Fifty-nine districts in all five boroughs of New York City have recycling requirement advertisements (

2000: Recycling growth rate in the United States from 1967-2000 grows to 12.7 percent (Dyssel, Langenhoven).

2001: New York’s Department of Solid Waste’s Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse, and Recycling requires all New York City public schools to integrate a recycling and waste prevention curriculum in all elementary schools (Nichols).

2002: Since the establishment of the new recycling program in 1989 the recycling of waste of the city increases from less than 1 percent to 20 percent. However later this year, there are cutbacks on recycling programs. As a result, collection of metal, glass, and plastic are suspended and recycling collection occurres on alternating weeks (

2004: Weekly recycling collection and all material collection are reestablished (

Ron Gonen founds RecycleBank, a rewards-based recycling participation program in New York City.  RecycleBank keeps track of how many individuals recycle, and rewards them with gift cards that can be used at local stores and on eBay (Koch).

2006: The New York City Council tries to enact a bill that would make it mandatory for residents to recycle computer, television, and handheld electronics in an attempt to reduce the amount of toxic materials used to make electronics; the residents would be compensated for recycling (Industry NEWS).

2007: PlaNYC is established by the New York City government, with Mayor Bloomberg in charge (PlaNYC).

RecycleBank is implemented in Wilmington, Delaware.  Wilmington’s landfill diversion rate grows to 35 percent and has a 90 percent biweekly participation. (Yepsen).

2008: The New York City Department of Sanitation’s Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse, and Recycling partners up with Verizon Wireless to urge all New York City residents to donate old mobile phones.  The cause is designed to recycle cell phones to aid survivors of domestic violence (Leisure & Travel Week 95).

2009: The New York State Returnable Container Law “The Bottle Bill” is expanded to include plastic water bottles. It is a huge success and contributes to the increase of 4.5 billion containers collected by deposit programs between New York, Oregon and Connecticut (Collins, Haight).

New York City becomes the first city in the United States to win the International Award for Sustainable Transport (Drug Week).

2010: CVS/pharmacy begins a recycling incentive program in all United States locations.  Every four times a customer chooses not to use a plastic bag, s/he receives a $1 store voucher (Koch).

Sprint executives found eRecyclingCorps, which allows Sprint customers to trade-in their old cell phone for a new one.  New York State participates (Koch).

2011: RecycleBank partners up with Brookhaven, the largest town in New York City, to create an inventive-based recycling program for all the town’s residents.  Residents who register on earn points every time they recycle.  These points can be spent towards various restaurants and recreational activities around the town (Callegari).

2012: The Recycling Innovators Forum and Competition is enacted by Alcoa, the American Chemistry’s Council’s Plastics Division, Coca-Cola Recycling, eCullet, Resource Recycling, Inc., and Waste Management, Inc in Oregon.  The goal of this forum is to give ten innovators a chance to represent their recycling incentive ideas (Business Wire).

Works Cited

Allen, Jeff, and Duane Davis. “Using Coupon Incentives In Recycling Aluminum: A Market Approach To Energy Conservation Policy.” Journal Of Consumer Affairs 27.2 (1993): 300-318. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.
“Analysis of New York City Department of Sanitation Curbside Recycling and Refuse Costs.” Natural Resources Defense Council. N.p., May 2008. Web. 14 Mar. 2013.
“A Brief History of New York City Recycling.” Weill Cornell Medical College Sustainability. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2013.
Callegari, John. “Brookhaven Incentivizes Residents’ Recycling.” Long Island Business 2 Aug. 2011: n. pag. LexisNexis Academic. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.
Farrell, Kevin P., and Martha K. Hirst. “NYC Recycles.” New York City Department of Sanitation. N.p., Fall 1999. Web. 14 Mar. 2013.
Gold, Allan R. “The Poor Mainly Recycle Poverty.” The New York Times 30 Dec. 1990, Final ed.: n. pag. LexisNexis Academic. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.
“History of NYC Recycling.” N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
Langenhoven, Belinda, and Michael Dyssel. “The Recycling Industry And Subsistence Waste Collectors: A Case Study Of Mitchell’s Plain.”Urban Forum 18.1 (2007): 114-132. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.
“Mobile Phone Buyback Offered at Carrier Stores.” ERecycling Corps. N.p., 10 Mar. 2010. Web. 14 Mar. 2013.
“New York Is First U.S. City to Win International Award for Sustainable Transport.” Drug Week (30 Jan. 2009): n. pag. LexisNexis Academic. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.
“New York’s Bottle Bill.” Department of Environmental Conservation. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.
Nichols, Sarah. “NYC School Recycling More than Child’s Play.” ProQuest. N.p., July 2001. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.
“NYC Department of Sanitation and Office to Combat Domestic Violence Join Verizon Wireless to Recycle Cell Phones to Aid Survivors.” Leisure & Travel Week 24 Mar. 2008: n. pag. LexisNexis Academic. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.
“NYC Pushing Electronics Recycling Bills.” Industry News 01 Jan. 2008: n. pag. Web. 15 Mar. 2013.
“NYC Recycling Made Easy.” Natural Resources Defense Council. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2013.
“NYC Residential Recycling Law.” N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
“On First Anniversary of NY’s Bottle Law Expansion, Early Returns Show Strong Signs of Success.” Bottle Bill Resource Guide. N.p., 29 Oct. 2010. Web. 14 Mar. 2013.
“PlaNYC: Solid Waste.” PlaNYC. Campaign for New York’s Future, n.d. Web.
“Recycling History.” Unicycler. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.
“The Recycling Innovators Forum Incentivizes Recycling’s Future.” Business Wire 25 Oct. 2012: n. pag. LexisNexis Academic. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.
Yepsen, Rhodes. “Encouraging Sustainable Recycling Behavior Through Financial Incentives.” Biocycle 48.12 (2007): 34-37. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 Mar. 2013.

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