Thursday, February 19, 2009

Fashion Week & the Department of Sanitation – NYC Recycling 101

What does Sexy Sustainable Style, the Department of Sanitation and Fashion Week have in common? A fashionable lesson in learning how to reduce waste & recycle properly.

I recently had the opportunity to meet NYC’s Deputy Chief of the Department of Sanitation at the DEX New York after party @ Cain. As silly as it may sound, I was thrilled to speak with him so I could discuss the rules of NYC’s recycling. As any New Yorker knows, recycling in the city can be incredibly confusing. Does the plastic peanut butter jar go in the trash or recycling bin? Where do you put the wire hangers with cardboard? How about the cardboard Chinese take-out containers?

Many residents, including myself, are confused about what to recycle because so many products display the universal recycling symbol. Some manufacturers voluntarily place a number inside the recycling symbol on their plastic products, but these numbers only serve to identify the plastic resins used in manufacturing, and do NOT indicate that the item is recyclable.

After my talk with the Deputy Chief, I felt it was time to take a crash course in NYC’s recycling program. Here’s what I learned!

The only plastics accepted for recycling in New York City are bottles & jugs (with necks smaller than their bodies). All other plastic containers and all other plastic items should be placed in the regular trash — even if they are labeled #1 PETE or #2 HDPE.
DO NOT place items in your recycling containers just because the package contains a recycling symbol or other recycling information. When in doubt, leave it out.

After reviewing the Dos & Don’ts list to recycling, I’ve realized that I’m definitely guilty of improperly recycling materials. Until now, I’ve always had the idea of, “when in doubt, leave it in” because I figured if I was wrong someone else would pull it out.

I hope this brief lesson helps clarify questions you may have had about recycling. In my opinion, NYC needs to start accepting more plastic recyclable materials! What do you think?

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