What Goes Around: NYC Recycles E-Waste

Friday, April 05, 2013

Ron Gonen, New York City's first-ever deputy commissioner of sanitation, recycling and sustainability, joins us weekly in April to talk about recycling in NYC.  This week: E-Waste and Hazardous Materials.




Ron Gonen

Comments [36]

Stefan from nj

Putting a huge picture of soda cans on the bin for paper recycling is very confusing!

Apr. 16 2013 06:48 PM
Brian from NYC

Q: Why is so much plastic not marked with a recycle symbol and number (I assume unrecyclable)? Is it that much cheaper?
Q: Why is there no deposit on plastic water bottles? So many end up in the trash.

Apr. 14 2013 08:17 PM
Robyn from lic

the city council padded the law to recycle all plastics, and I heard that this would start in 2013. any word about when?

Apr. 11 2013 10:56 AM
bill klein from fairfield nj

Hi,I enjoyed the show on recycling.credits to the mayor.
Ther is a company in california called CERAPLAST they have a number of pantents on biodegradeable plastic products,including bags.alot of thier prouducts are made from algie. the itialian government just passed a law that all single use plastic bags come from this company.this sounds like a good idea to me. What do you think?
thanks, bill klein

Apr. 10 2013 04:23 PM
Bruce from NYC

Still don't understand why NYC doesn't use its muscle to compel manufacturers and retailers to use plastics that are recyclable in the NYC programme. And why it allows the sale of eight ounce bottled water at all. The key used to be ReUse/Reduce/Recycle. I work as a building janitor part of the year and thus I take up the slack of the recycling programme in a co-op in Manhattan. I have to know what is actually recyclable. Janitors quite often are the people who make it work.

Apr. 06 2013 02:07 PM
Lee T. from Manhattan

I know that is has been stated, but I just wanted to add in that many cites are going to single stream and NYC should be going that way, so easy for the resident. I am happy to hear about the E-waste pickups in the fall. I am sure you will talk about it in further episodes but composting needs to be on the industrial scale. Also is there anything thing that city can do to help organize people around this topic, perhaps DSNY can coordinate tours to Sims Metal Management to see how recycling works.

Thanks so much for this series!

Apr. 06 2013 11:13 AM
Tamara Greenfield from East Village, NYC

We're really glad to see this important appointment take place! In the East Village, Fourth Arts Block has been organizing local theaters and arts groups to collect all their unwanted props, costumes, and equipment to make available for free to other artists, while serving as a local e-waste and textile collection site for community members. Over 2 1/2 years, we've been able to divert 43 tons of materials from the waste stream through this community swap event, which we think could be a model for neighborhood based collection and re-use.

Come by tomorrow, noon-3pm to see our Load OUT! event in action. Artists can take home FREE stuff assembled from our neighboring theater & arts organizations, while others can drop off unwanted clothing, textiles and e-waste. More info about the event and ongoing program at

Apr. 05 2013 01:09 PM
Rita L. Houlihan from NYC 10025

Will DSNY expand composting soon? Right now we can bring non-meat food waste to the Columbia Univ. Greenmarket on Broadway at 114th Street, but only on Sundays between 8am-1pm. By composting I've reduced my household garbage by at least 50%. Composting is great and so good for our city.

Apr. 05 2013 12:19 PM
Paul from NYC

Unfortunatley every company I"ve worked for has had all the recycle bins but at the end of the day the maintenance crews were told to just throw all the recyclables out in the general bin which end up in a land fill. It was the buildings policy not to recycle. This has happend even in companies that throw out huge amounts of paper thrown out. I've even called the city and their reply was it's not their policy to follow through and can't do anything about it.

Apr. 05 2013 11:46 AM

A few comments for the deputy commissioner.
* I don't think you gave a substantive answer to small-business owner Barbara's predicament. It would have done more to build confidence in your department had you acknowledged that she has identified a problem with the private provision of waste collection for small businesses and offered to investigate the problem further. Why not start a small-business initiative to see if you can serve that community better?
* Our building in Hudson Heights/Washington Heights has bins from clothing recycling that are a joint effort of the Sanitation Department and Housing Works. Residents love them and fill them regularly. Please publicize and expand this successful program.
* Shredding is important for preventing identify theft but is a big hassle for individuals. It would be great to have more shredding events from the Sanitation department.

Apr. 05 2013 11:36 AM
Laiah Raphael from Geenwich CT

35 yrs. ago in Brooklyn, my neighbor and I decided to recycle. We sent fliers to our neighbors on our block to bring their metal, paper and glass to one of our houses. We put pails outside.(My husband came home one day and asked me why the neighbors were throwing garbage around our house). Once a week I would load my staton wagon, and enlist one son(who didn' go willingly) to go downtown. We dropped the paper at a sanitation depot, and the glass and metal at a center staffed with good ciizens. They put the glass in barrels according to color. They wore protective gear, and smashed the glass. My car ended up smelling horrible, but we felt good to recycle. Now, I am on a town committee to promote recycling. We just instituted Single Stream here, and it feels good!! We are also exploring town composting.

Another comment: Around that time we met a Pepsi Cola executive, who commented that recycling did not pay. Wonder where he is now.

Apr. 05 2013 11:36 AM
Stephen J. Lasky from Seagate, Brooklyn

Last Friday the sanitation truck refused to pick up debris from the restoration of my home after Sandy. I had to hire a private contractor to remove it and paid them a few hundred dollars. On Tuesday the sanitation truck picked up another neighbors mountain of debris. I ran over and learned they had been directed to do it one more time. Why weren't we told? My debris is "bagged" and "tied" and ready to go. This morning the workers went through my pails to pick and choose what they would take and what they would leave. They do not follow the designated schedule of pick ups and recycling nor do they take things that are properly put out. Where are the supervisors?

Apr. 05 2013 11:33 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Why the hell did it take so long for NYC to *have* a commissioner for recycling & sustainability?

Apr. 05 2013 11:30 AM
Carlos from Forest Hills

Q: can you connect me with the commissioner as my group does composting and we would love to work together. We are master composers and got our classes in part thanks to a partnership with DSNY.

Apr. 05 2013 11:26 AM

...sorry, I tuned-in late.

NYC organic collection - FANTASTIC!!


Apr. 05 2013 11:23 AM
Leni Wolfenson from Manhattan

There is no such thing as commerical recycling. I see the garbage trucks picking up black bags as well as clear bags. every night

Apr. 05 2013 11:22 AM

How about moving to single source recycling like my Southern NJ community recently did. Talk about easy: all recyclables in one bin!

Apr. 05 2013 11:22 AM

My dumass super frequently bundles all the recycling into the regular trash.

Despite frequent reports to the DSNY.

Apr. 05 2013 11:21 AM
The Truth from Becky

Why is NY the trashiest city in America?

Apr. 05 2013 11:21 AM
Coogan from NYC

Wish the city recycling would start in early Summer (rather than Sept.) when the 'frappuccino' season begins...

Cans overflow with what appears to be 80%+ disposable- unrecycled drink containers, a high number of which are Starbucks related. Why Starbucks doesn't have recycling bins in their shops or carry 'green' containers is another show...

Getting a jump on that nasty summer overflow garbage waste would be fantasti, and impress the many tourists that come and notice how nasty it gets. let's do better!

Apr. 05 2013 11:21 AM
RJ from prospect hts

Please do not neglect the Lower East Side Ecology Center, which has special e-waste collection events as well, including a full-time warehouse at Nevins and President streets in Brooklyn. Friends and neighbors can get together and hire a car service, saving money and gas waste by gathering their materials and delivering together.

Apr. 05 2013 11:20 AM
MJ Burke

Are there plans to implement waste to energy programs in NYC?

Please talk about Shredfest and if it can be held more frequently.

Apr. 05 2013 11:19 AM

How about collecting organic material for composting, like most of Europe?!

Also, what happens to the eWaste when the city collects it - does it get shipped to China??

Apr. 05 2013 11:19 AM
Mark from Manhattan

I have worked in many restaurants in NYC as a manager where hundreds of bottles and cans are thrown away everyday in the regular trash because nobody cares about recycling them.
Any attempt to make it happen has been met with derision.

Also, in Europe they have recycling containers for things like expired medicines (which in the US end up in the toilet or garbage) and dead batteries that are very harmful for the environment

Apr. 05 2013 11:18 AM
Bibi Farber from Manhattan

What are the plans for expanding household composting opportunities?
Did you know that Sweden has nationwide mandatory organic waste collection? Is there a plan for restaurants and institutions?

Apr. 05 2013 11:18 AM
kim from brooklyn

i walk down the street on recycling day and see all sorts of plastics that aren't recyclable. it frustrates me so much that people don't know what's not recyclable. what can we do to educate residents?

Apr. 05 2013 11:17 AM
Stuart Garber from Park slope

Most folks in my area - park slope - don't seem to understand the recycling rules and throw all kinds if plastics into their bins that NYC doesn't currently recycle. How does the city process all of this? And how can we communicate the rules more clearly to folks?

Apr. 05 2013 11:16 AM
Carlos from Queens

Q: not all plastics are recyclable in NYC will they all be done in the future? The plastic recycling signs in bottom of plastics can be confusing to most people and please comments on composting

Apr. 05 2013 11:15 AM
michele from nye

Here's a practical suggestion for successful recycling: put any and all recycling (non-organic) like glass, plastic metal etc ALL together in bins (people cannot keep it straight what goes where and thus avoid recycling) and then CREATE JOBS at the recycling plants where peeple (paid) sort through the waste and separate plastic, metal etc. Just make it simple and it will work.

Apr. 05 2013 11:15 AM
Arousiak from Kew Gardens, NY

I've been an avid and careful recycler (and composter) for many years.
However, I always see all kinds of unrecyclable materials in the buildings-everything from bags of dirty diapers, to meat-stained styrofoams trays.
I've heard that if there are too many unrecyclable materials, entire bags will be chucked, rather than sorted. Is this true?

Apr. 05 2013 11:14 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Most big firms in NYC do NOT recycle. Any plans to address this?

Apr. 05 2013 11:14 AM
maydelle liss

Austin, TX has passed a bill allowing for the preparation for mandatory composting (in approximately 3 years) for all homes and businesses (even restaurants) and will be implementing a zero waste policy very soon!

Apr. 05 2013 11:14 AM
Bonn from East Village

The 14th St. Y/First Avenue has a food waste recycling program. They give you free biodegradable bags and a box. Just bring the bag to the Y, weigh it, text the weight and the person who deposits the most waste for a period of time gets a gift. It's a great program, and you don't have to be a Y member to join. Btw, it's about time there were recycling bins in the streets. They have had this in Spain since the 1980s! And biodegradable bags in England since the 1980s.

Apr. 05 2013 11:13 AM
mbk from manhattan

I bring my compost to the farmers market. can they program be expanded to more locations?

Apr. 05 2013 11:11 AM

Please address the bottle/can deposit program.

Some issues:
- Unfair burden on many, if not most, stores in urban areas where space is extremely-limited and many of them do not accept deposit containers for refund

- Retailers are required to give 80% of unclaimed deposits to the City.
What is the compliance rate? How aggressive/successful has the City been in collecting these funds?

- Seemingly arbitrary inconsistencies, such as: No deposit on one-gallon water bottles but deposit on three-liter hard-plastic water bottles.

Apr. 05 2013 10:45 AM
George from Brooklyn

What has the city been doing regarding e-waste?

Apr. 05 2013 06:33 AM

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