Timeline: Improving the Ease and Convenience of Recycling

Sean Proctor

Professor MacBride

Timeline Research

March 18th, 2012


Improving the Ease and Convenience of Recycling

1881: New York City Department of Street Cleaning created. First New York City department created to control waste management. (5)

1895: Commissioner George Waring creates plan that forbids dumping waste into the Atlantic Ocean (as was then done), and mandates recycling for New York City residents. (5)

1897: New York City creates its first materials recovery center , from which people sift through the City’s trash and pull out specific items that could be recycled such as papers and metals. (13)

1904: The nations first aluminum can recycling plants open in Chicago and Cleveland. (13)

1918: Because of the lack of resources cause by World War I, ocean dumping is reinstated and government run recycling is halted. (5)

Federal government creates The Waste Reclamation Service to ease the flow of waste during the war. (13)

1920s: Landfilling gains popularity across the United States due to its ease of disposal. (13)

1930s: Due to the economic depression, recycling becomes popular because many people cannot afford new goods.  (9)

1933: New York City Department of Street Cleaning changes its name to the Department of Sanitation. (5)

1955: Life Magazine runs a piece on the upside of single use disposable items, going so far as saying they are necessities. This reflects the population’s ambivalence toward recycling. (13)

1965: Congress passes the Solid Waste Disposal Act, which recognizes the growing problem of waste but does little to combat the problem. (13)

1970: First national Earth Day is hosted, bringing recycling back into mainstream focus. (9)

1972: Oregon becomes the first state to require consumers to pay a deposit on bottles and cans. (13)

1976: Federal Law gives states and localities the responsibility for disposing of their trash and for recycling. (5)

The Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act is passed, which requires landfills to be more closely monitored. (13)

1982: New York City implements the Returnable Container Act, commonly known as the ‘Bottle Act’. Consumers now get their deposit returned when they recycle beer and wine bottles, as well as soda cans. Act was (and is) a tremendous success, decreasing roadside litter by 70%, and eliminates up to 200,00 metric tons of greenhouse gasses each year. (2)

1986: Recycling begins in New York City as a voluntary program. (5)

1987: Media reports on ‘solid waste crisis’ after a barge carrying garbage from New York cannot empty its load in surrounding states. After a six-month journey, the barge and its contents are forced to return to New York. (13)

1988: Government allows price preferences to paper that is at least 50% recycled and 10% postconsumer content. (13)

1989: Recycling is mandated in New York City as stated in Local Law 19, which requires superintendents of buildings with eight or more units to designate storage areas for recyclables. (5)

1993: Department of Sanitation consolidates recycling program. Increased effort to collect, metal cans, foils, glass bottles, plastic jugs, bottles, newspapers, magazines, phone books, and corrugated cardboard. (5)

President Clinton orders all federal agencies to only buy paper that is made with at least 20% postconsumer content. (13)

1996: Department of Sanitation begins collecting mixed paper, bulk metal objects, different cardboards, and wax paper cartons. (6)

1997-For the first time all fifty-nine districts in New York City use curbside/containerized receptacles to recycle the same material. An aggressive advertising campaign by the City helps to accomplish this milestone. (5)

Visy Paper Mill is opened on Staten Island. It is one of the worlds most technologically advanced paper recycling mills, and it still collects approximately half of the City’s recycled paper. (5)

1998: City council passes local law to require weekly collection of recyclables in hopes to increase citywide participation. (6)

2000: The EPA reports that nationally only 5.4% of all plastics generated in the USA are being recycled. (10)

2002: January: Bloomberg elected, announces that recycling is costing the city too much. Proposes end to collection of metals, glass, and plastic in hopes of saving around fifty million dollars. (6)

June: Diversion rate for recyclables at 19% of waste stream, and the capture rate of targeted recyclables reaches 46%. (6)

July: New York City Waste Prevention Coalition challenges Bloomberg’s recycling cuts. Mayor compromises and keeps metal and paper and cardboard collection because the city was making a profit from those operations. Plans to reinstate plastic collection in 2003 and glass collection in 2004. (6)

2003: July: Department of Sanitation changed recycling collection to once every two weeks. This angers many because materials must be stored for a longer period of time. (6)

2004: April: Department of Sanitation announces weekly recycling collection all materials to be restored. (5)

June: Department of Sanitation announces that citywide diversion rate fell to 15.8% and capture rate fell to 36.6%, both down from the first year of collection. (6)

2007: Mayor Bloomberg announces the PlaNYC initiative, which will focus on various recycling strategies among other pressing environmental issues. (5)

PlaNYC announces its hopes to divert 75% of New York City’s solid waste from landfills. (7)

2009: Bottle Bill expanded to include collection of water bottles. (2)

New Yorkers use more than one billion plastic bags each year, but only one percent are recycled or reused. Nationally, this figure has a recycle/reuse rate of 9.1%. (11)

San Francisco, one of the worlds most efficient recycling cities, institutes the nation’s first mandatory composting law. (3)

San Francisco announces that all households must use three different colored garbage bins (Black for trash, blue for recyclables, and green for compost) or face fines of up to $1,000.  The City hopes to eventually send no waste to landfills by 2020 (12)

2010: PepsiCo introduces a futuristic collection machine called The Dream Machine. The machine incentivizes people to recycle through it by awarding points that can amount to redeemable prizes. (4)

2012: Bloomberg announces that all public schools and city agencies will create their own recycling initiatives.  (6)

July: Recycling plant in Brooklyn opens. The facility accepts any type of ridged plastic as opposed to only number one and two plastics, which is all the City currently collects. (6)

New York City Council announces plans to add 200 new recycle bins in public spaces over the next three years and a total of 700 recycle bins over the next decade. (6)

2013: Bottle Bill expanded to include flavored water collection, iced teas, energy drinks, sports drinks, and various juice bottles. (1)

Works Cited:

  1. “Bottle Bill Expansion.” Accessed March 17, 2013. http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/external?sid=c5ef8d64-f5c4-4709-a309-f97a5bb96baf%40sessionmgr115&vid=6&hid=127.
  2. “Bottle Bill Original.” Accessed March 17, 2013. http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/8500.html.
  3. “Cool Recycling Initiatives.” Accessed March 18, 2013. http://inhabitat.com/top-6-recycling-and-reuse-initiatives-from-around-the-globe/olipot-in-action-photo-2/?extend=1.
  4. “Dream Machine.” Accessed March 18, 2013. http://www.dreammachinelocator.com/about.php.
  5. “History of NYC Recycling.” Accessed March 18, 2013. http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/resources/history.shtml.
  6. “Optimizing Recycling in NYC.” Accessed March 17, 2013. http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?sid=c5ef8d64-f5c4-4709-a309-f97a5bb96baf%40sessionmgr115&vid=5&hid=127.
  7. “PlaNYC’s Solid Waste Initives.” Accessed March 17, 2013. http://nytelecom.vo.llnwd.net/o15/agencies/planyc2030/pdf/planyc_2011_solid_waste.pdf.
  8. “Processing & Marketing Recyclables in NYC – Chapter 2: Modern History of NYC Recycling – Pmrnyc04.ch2.pdf.” Accessed March 18, 2013. http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/downloads/pdf/pmrnyc04.ch2.pdf.
  9. “Recycling History.” Accessed March 18, 2013. http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/recycling1.htm.

10. “Recycling in a Mega City (Not Very NYC Specific).” Accessed March 17, 2013. http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?sid=c5ef8d64-f5c4-4709-a309-f97a5bb96baf%40sessionmgr115&vid=6&hid=127&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=8gh&AN=12768848.

11. “Recycling? Fuhgeddaboudit (Article).” Accessed March 17, 2013. http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?sid=c5ef8d64-f5c4-4709-a309-f97a5bb96baf%40sessionmgr115&vid=13&hid=127&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=8gh&AN=38705281.

12. “San Francisco to Toughen a Strict Recycling Law.” Accessed March 19, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/11/us/11recycle.html?_r=0.

13. “The Brief History Of Recycling.” Accessed March 19, 2013. http://www.motorcityfreegeek.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=69&Itemid=78.


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