New York – The city’s latest plan to go green may have area residents seeing red.
Hoping to slash its $1.7 billion waste disposal budget while encouraging recycling, the Department of Sanitation has spent $1 million to develop a program that would have city dwellers paying an as yet unspecified amount for trash pickup, as reported by CBS News (http://cbsloc.al/2FuTvyj ).
The program would have residents paying to have their garbage carted off to a landfill, as a way of promoting recycling.
The 2001 closing of the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island left New York City with no local waste disposal options. The Department of Sanitation spends $300 million each year to ship garbage out of state.
“There’s a huge cost to make everything disappear every day,” observed Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia.
Garcia said that if faced with financial disincentives, residents could learn to minimize the amount of waste they produce, much like people learned to conserve water when the city began using meters to bill for water instead of using a flat rate system.
“They don’t take a half an hour shower,” said Garcia. “They don’t keep the water running while they’re brushing their teeth.”
Garcia said that the details of the plan have yet to be worked out, noting that in some cities residents pay for garbage by weight, or purchase special disposal bags.
“Our real focus is what would be effective in incentivizing New Yorkers to recycle,” explained Garcia, who noted that she could not say if charging for garbage pickup would result in lower property taxes.
Garcia’s efforts are part of City Hall’s One NYC program which would eliminate all trash disposal in landfills by the year 2030. According to the Department of Sanitation, one third of the city’s waste can be recycled through curbside recycling programs, another third can be recovered through the city’s organics program and other items, such as clothing, household items and plastic bags, could be diverted through donations or take back programs.
According to the New York Post (http://nyp.st/2FxWlmd), New York City faces unique challenges in its recycling programs particularly in high rise buildings and public housing developments.
Garcia noted that when she first took office in 2014 she was told by a high ranking Department of Sanitation official that when it came to city housing projects, “they pretend to recycle and I pretend to collect it.”
The idea of hitting city residents in their pockets for garbage collection instead of folding the additional expense into general taxes is deliberate.
“When something costs you money, you pay more attention to it,” said Garcia.