Statement of Marjorie J. Clarke, Ph.D., Lehman College
Vice Chair, Citywide Recycling Advisory Board
Vice Chair, NYC Waste Prevention Coalition
Vice Chair, Manhattan Citizens' Solid Waste Advisory Board
To City Council Sanitation Committee, March 20, 2002
Arguments in Support of Retaining Metals, Glass and Plastic (MGP) Collections
Overall recycling costs (paper and MGP) are getting to be comparable to export. Recyclables are commodities. Prices go up and down over time. It is a false economy to try to time the market, stopping and restarting one or another recyclable collection because recycling participation depends on public trust, habits, and motivation, all of which can easily be disrupted. The City's recycling and waste prevention education programs have spent about 50 cents per capita per year, as compared with San Francisco which expends $5/household/year and achieves 45% recycling rate. You get what you pay for. NYC sees education as a necessary evil, where it is really an investment that pays back in increased recycling rates, and therefore collection efficiencies. Re-education will cost more than initial education and will result in less participation.
Why aren't there Markets:
Problems with Exporting more (Increased Costs):
Extra metal and glass will gunk up Newark and Hempstead incinerators
Will result in more ash to be exported; Will drive up tip fee (export costs)
NYC has not considered any increases in export costs due to this.
Increased Risk of Exporting -- Congress may institute an export ban
Immediate cost savings achievable by City's recycling program:
Glassphalt - savings $15 million
Grasscycling ((Leave it on the Lawn) - saves $10-15 million /year
Increase enforcement -- Increases recycling rates, recycling efficiency, brings in fines
San Francisco has 14 enforcement personnel for 1/10 the population of NYC.
Substitution of recycling for garbage trucks -- certain districts recycle 20% or more by weight. By volume it may be 30%. Therefore, there should be 2 garbage trucks and one recycling truck/week (many districts still have 3 garbage trucks/week).
Dual Bin Trucks reduce trucking costs (one truck replaces 2 on same streets) - study found these trucks increase productivity by 28%
Optimize truck routes - fill them up in shortest time
Better contracts for processing recyclables -- better negotiations. Why did cost double all of a sudden?
Long-term cost savings possible by improving City's recycling program
In addition to making decisions to save money immediately, NYC should issue bonds to fund programs/systems that have a payback time. (The Mayor has said he will borrow $1.5 billion for expense budget items (usually a fiscal no-no, but is being give a free pass.) Borrowing for programs that will pay for themselves is really more like borrowing for capital expenditures -- the usual purpose of issuing bonds))
Bloomberg Cut Waste Prevention TOO!
We are in violation of Local Law 19; The City has demonstrated utter contempt for the law (for the state laws too). The City is under court order to comply with this law. We separate less than 20%. We were supposed to be recycling 25% 8 years ago!
Bottle Laws - FACT SHEET
NYC DOS SAIC report (2000): Increasing deposit to 10 cents increases capture rate to 69%-80% = add'l 100,000 tons from NYC waste stream in 2000 - reduces $8.6M in waste mgmt costs.
"In California and several Canadian provinces, beverage containers do not have to
be sorted by brand. That saves a lot of time and cuts costs," said GRRN Board member Rick Best, who also helped oversee the study. "Additional cost-savings are realized in many places by the use of automated ‘reverse vending’ machines for returning containers."
For while the ten states with ‘bottle bills’ and deposits on beverage containers recycle 80 percent of their plastic soda bottles, the 40 states without deposits recycle only 10 to 20 percent of their bottles.
The report is unique in that it was written by a team of consultants including R.W. Beck, Franklin Associates, Tellus, and Sound Research Management, under the close scrutiny of business and environmental interests.
CRI believes this report is historic. The report shows that when deposit systems are designed to use revenues from the sale of recycled materials and unredeemed deposits (deposit money left in the system by consumers who do not return their containers), these revenues offset program costs significantly.
The report provides hard numbers that confirm the superior performance of deposit/return programs over curbside recycling and drop-off collection.
For the first time, revenues are identified that can offset the cost of deposit programs: money from the sale of the used bottles and cans, and deposit money left in the system by consumers who choose not to return their containers for refunds (unredeemed deposits). When those revenues are factored in, deposit programs are less costly than curbside programs—at no cost to taxpayers.
For example, states with a 5-10 cent deposit recover 61.6% of all beverage containers targeted, and recover 125 containers per dollar spent.
Curbside programs recover 18.5% of all beverage containers targeted, and recover 58 containers per dollar spent. The report also shows that some deposit programs have discovered cost-saving features that increase efficiency and reduce costs. For example,
costs can be reduced when automated ‘reverse vending’ machines are used for container returns and by elimination of the requirement for brand sorting, such as in California and some Canadian provinces.
Solid Waste and Recycling: A detailed report by Franklin Associates, Ltd. estimated that the State's Bottle Law reduced the volume of discarded beverage containers by 72 percent annually, from 47.5 million cubic feet to 13.1 million cubic feet.
The study estimated that the 34.1 million cubic feet saved by the deposit law was approximately equal to all of the municipal waste generated by a city the size of Rochester over a period of nearly three years.
The study also found that recycling rates increased dramatically after the bill’s
passage, with aluminum cans increasing from 18 % to 82 %; glass one-way bottles from 5 % to 79 %; and PET bottles from 1 % to 57 %.
Finally, the study estimated the deposit law saves the state 11.5 trillion BTU’s (British thermal units) or the equivalent of 2 million barrels of oil annually.
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) estimates the overall redemption rates for deposit containers to be 77.6 percent for 1995.
Redemption rates for various container types are as follows:
aluminum 85 percent
glass 75 percent
PET soda 66 percent
Both waste, and waste management costs were expected to be substantially reduced according to preliminary findings by the NYSBWA study. The study estimated an annual reduction of solid waste tonnage of 650,000 tons, at a savings to taxpayers of $19
million a year. The bottle bill continues to serve as a valuable waste management tool, according to the NYDEC, which reports that redeemed deposit containers account for 5 percent of the total 6.35 million tons of waste diverted in FY 95-96
Data from the Center for Marine Conservation’s (CMC) 1995 International Coastal Cleanup shows that, on average, beverage container debris represents a far greater percentage of beach litter in non-bottle bill states (19 percent) than in bottle bill states (7 percent).
Litter surveys have also been conducted in non-deposit states. These surveys show that beverage containers are the dominant source of litter by both volume and piece count. From 36 to 69 percent of total litter was shown in non-deposit states to be beverage container litter.
State Beverage Container Litter Reduction Total Litter Reduction
New York70 - 80%  30% 
 Final Report of Temporary State Commission on Returnable Beverage Containers, Mar 27,
1985, p. 62.
 Projection from Center for Management Analysis, School of Business and Public Administration of Long Island University. New York State Returnable Container Act: A Preliminary Study (1984).