Bill Morris in Green Ideas
1. e-cycle NYC
"This is our largest and fastest-growing program," says Schreiber. Since Jan. 1, 2015, it has been illegal to mix electronic devices – essentially, anything with a circuit board – in with curbside garbage. Before the ban, about 400 buildings participated in e-cycle NYC, which was instituted in October of 2013 and is run in partnership with Electronic Recyclers International, Inc. Today, more than 4,000 buildings are signed up, with some 250 coming aboard every month. More than 6,000 buildings have expressed an interest in participating. Two of the biggest recent additions are Co-op City and Stuyvesant Town.
Small buildings (10 to 99 units) store their electronic waste in a designated area and then call DSNY when a pickup is needed. Some larger buildings use recycling bins provided by DSNY, which can require weekly pickups. DSNY also stages periodic electronic recycling events in larger developments.
Electronic Recyclers International has out-of-state facilities where it wipes out data, then separates recyclable materials from heavy metals. The amount of electronic waste New York City recycles is rising rapidly and is now at about 250,000 pounds a month.
"It's been a challenge to meet the demand," says Schreiber, "but the amount we're diverting from landfills is fantastic."
This program, begun in 2011, is designed to divert clothing and linens from landfills and instead resell or recycle them. In partnership with the non-profit Housing Works, DSNY has collected 5 million pounds of clothing and textiles from some 700 buildings in the city. Items that can't be resold are shredded for use in such things as mattress stuffing and insulation. And every time residents place items in the bins provided by DSNY, they can take a card that allows them to deduct their donation from their taxes.
This may be the hardest sell – convincing New Yorkers that their prosaic kitchen garbage can be put to good use as compost for local community farms and gardens.
"This program changes how people handle waste, so we do a lot of hand holding," says Schreiber. "We have training sessions here at DSNY's office in downtown Manhattan, or we visit buildings. If a co-op wants to enroll, we go there and answer shareholders' questions. We're seeing more interest from co-ops and condos than from residential buildings."
The organics program has two components. In the first, residents place all kitchen waste in brown, sealed 21-gallon bins provided by DSNY. This so-called "industrial" organic waste is picked up curbside. Begun in 2013 in the outer boroughs, this program now includes 160 high-rise buildings in Manhattan.
Second, DSNY works in partnership with GrowNYC to collect residential kitchen scraps – excluding such items as meat, fish, dairy products and pet waste – at 40 Greenmarket locations throughout the city. This soil-enriching organic waste is then transported to local composting sites, such as Red Hook Farms in Brooklyn.
"The biggest advantage for the city is that organics are handled locally, so there's a huge savings from not having to ship it to out-of-state landfills," says Schreiber, adding that all three of the recycling programs are catching on. "It's being seen as a service that buildings can offer their residents."
To find out how your co-op or condo can participate, visit www.nyc.gov/apt-recycling.
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