More plastics will be added to the city’s recycling program in a few months, according to Sanitation Department officials.
The Bloomberg administration is committed to the changes, which will be announced Monday, to make the city greener and cleaner, they said. But details were still being worked out.
“We are still determining what types of plastics will be included,” said Ron Gonen, Deputy Commissioner of the Sanitation Department for Recycling and Sustainability. “We expect the announcement to include the launch date, which will be in a few months.”
The department currently recycles plastic jugs and bottles, among other items. Other plastic items such as yogurt containers, toys, cups and plastic bags are not allowed. But all types of plastics must be sorted based on what they’re made of and not melted together, according to the department website.
Natural Resources Defense Council spokesman Eric Goldstein thinks that all rigid plastics — such as yogurt containers and other clean plastics that cannot bend — will probably be a part of the progam.
Goldstein is expecting that the policy will be both successful and popular as the task of putting out recyclables will become easier.
“Over the past nine months there has been a significant turnaround in the city’s policy and the steps that the Bloomberg adminstration are taking are encouraging for everyone who cares about advancing recycling and saving taxpayers’ dollars,” said Goldstein. “The more we recycle the less expensive it becomes, the less it has to shift to landfills.”
According to Gonen, the city’s recycling performance has been in line with that of other cities to date, and increasing the rate of recylcables will be a great opportunity for New York.
The environmental organization GrowNYC reports that New York City residents recycle about 17 percent of their total waste — half of what they could be recycling under the existing program. And 7.5 percent of the city’s waste stream consists of plastic film such as supermarket bags.
Christina Salvi, assistant director of recycling outreach and education at GrowNYC, said the group strongly supports expanded recycling.
“We are very supportive of it because it will offer more opportunities to recycle and make things easier for people,” said Salvi. “I do think it’ll be a successful program encouraging more people to practice the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle.”
Aside from the mayor’s plan to recycle more plastics, more significant programs for collecting food waste for composting, which are already in effect in Staten Island, could be on the agenda, according to Goldstein. That would make a further difference in teaching everyone the best way of handling trash and using those lessons learned to recycle better in their houses and apartment buildings, he said.
“There’s a fresh breeze blowing and a significant policy shift now seems to be underway,” Goldstein said. “So now over the remainder of 2013, the mayor and his administration have a wide number of changes that should significantly improve recycling and handling of wastes.”
He further added that there could be “more opportunities to recycle clothing and textile, a greater number of places to recycle bottles and cans on city streets, and additional locations for recycling computers and other electronics.”