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How Much Garbage in New York City Is Really Trash?

July 4, 2018.

In 2017, roughly half of the recyclables recycled were not recycled properly with the exception of cardboard. There seems to be some confusion over what can be recycled and what cannot be. New York is also one of those states that has no landfill or incinerator of its own. So, NYC, let’s talk about what can and cannot be recycled, the difference between refuse and recyclable material, the amounts and types that are being collected by sanitation workers. What happens to this, and what are some other options in our continued efforts toward going green with garbage in New York City?

Garbage in New York City

According to the Department of Sanitation, not even a quarter of the garbage collected is actually trash. For the most part, paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and metal are all recyclable. Textiles and electronics are, too, though there is no curbside pickup for them. Some debatables are plastic bags, yogurt cups and toys, and folks are real quick to throw away organic waste, which might be better served in a compost.

When sorted properly, waste managers can find buyers for the material. For example, China is one of the world’s leading importers of recyclable waste. Recently, though, China has become stricter on what waste it’s willing to accept, and the cost of exporting garbage elsewhere is still as high as or higher than the $290 million taxpayer dollars it cost New York City in 2007. As a result, New York and other cities have expanded their plastic programs to include hard plastics like toys and yogurt cups. Some corporations are coming up with innovative ways to turn refuse into recyclable material, like Preserve does by turning yogurt cups into handles for razors.

What still can’t be recycled are: disposable coffee cups, grease soaked pizza boxes, butter tubs, vegetable oil bottles, takeout containers with food residue, unrinsed milk jugs, bottle caps, and human waste–that is, dirty diapers. There is still an argument over the existence of plastic bags, since they’re neither good for wildlife nor the machines used in breaking down material for recycling.

Why Waste

According to the charity organization GrowNYC, “New York City residents currently recycle only about 17% of their total waste–half of what they could be recycling under the current program.” GrowNYC focuses on textile recycling and composts in their efforts to minimize our damage to the environment. The Department of Sanitation has its own nonprofit program, too, Housing Works, for recycling textiles. Up 15% over the last decade, about 125 pounds of textiles are thrown out by each household a year. That’s 5.7% of our wasted materials that could have just as easily been donated to a charity or secondhand thrift store.

On average, 650 pounds of organic waste or food scraps are wasted a year by each household, and there are not many programs that deal with this component of recycling. GrowNYC takes these and gives back to the community with their composts.

Electronics brings that 5.7% to about 9% of recyclables that are finding their way to the landfills with the rest of the refuse in the garbage. The other nearly 60% consists of paper, plastic, metal, glass and food scraps. Many theorize that a lack of knowledge on recycling is the reason for this number, though persist efforts to educate has seen this number down by 13% since 2005.

Another local option for textiles, among other things, is Jiffy Junk. Jiffy Junk deals with furniture, carpet and flooring, adheres to all disposal laws, which has become a thing, since the state banned the dumping of appliances and electronics on the curb in 2015, cleans up construction debris, and really, you name it. From professional hoarders to office types, the Jiffy Junk team is certified in giving the “White Glove Treatment” to everyone. Jiffy Junk will remove your junk in a jiffy–no pardon on the colloquialism.

Earth to New York

Companies like Jiffy Junk save time and trouble, especially if you just can’t get in the swing of the multi-trash recycling habits or just don’t have the time to take it yourself to donation and recycling centers. While junk hauling companies may not have the same prestige as other eco-friendly options like GrowNYC, they get the job done just as well.

The removal services Jiffy Junk offers include:

  • Appliances
  • Carpeting
  • Construction Debris
  • Electronics
  • Estates
  • Furniture
  • Garbage
  • Hot tubs
  • and more

The reason it’s illegal to just dispose of appliances and electronics on the curb is because of the contaminants and carcinogens that are harmful to the environment. These materials must be kept out of the landfill, which is where they are brought if picked up by the city. According to GrowNYC, “Landfills are responsible for 36% of all methane emissions in the US.” What Jiffy Junk’s recyclers do is break down these items and mine them for their reusable materials, which decreases the amount of new heavy metal that suppliers need to harvest from the earth for products. Otherwise, if in good working condition, Jiffy Junk donates them, but their efforts save you the back pain.

To take it a step further, Jiffy Junk goes the extra mile and cleans up after themselves. When removing carpet, furniture, or whatever other items might have to make the trip to a disposal site, the team takes care not to scratch the hardwood beneath, other furniture, doorjambs, and sweeps the mess left behind. That’s why Suffolk County, Nassau County and NYC contractors rely upon them to remove debris from their worksites. Takes a different kind of skilled labor to gut and clean up after remodeling or building a new home or city building.

Likewise, cleaning out an estate after a loved one passes or a foreclosure is not something you do yourself. The experience is not only stressful and overwhelming, but is also an early stage for hoarding. So, before trying to put yourself through the experience of trying to hold on to too much, hire a professional.

No matter what your situation is, Jiffy Junk will see that your garbage in New York City is donated or recycled properly by state and federal laws, rules and regulations.

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