New York’s pandemic recovery offers the city a fresh start on increasing sustainability — and now is the time to tackle our waste management crisis head-on. Residents, government, and the waste management industry must work in concert and take on their respective responsibilities in making New York a cleaner, less wasteful city.
Op-ed: It’s time to tackle the city’s waste crisis
Originally posted in Crain’s New York Business
By Gregory Lettieri
New York, New York – February 17, 2022 – Like most Americans, we New Yorkers have never been great at recycling or waste reduction. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, reports had New York businesses recycling a mere 40% of the 5.5 million tons of waste they produced per year. More realistic reports placed the figure at 9% to 25%. Residential recycling rates are often even worse.
When offices emptied out during the spring of 2020, recycling rates dropped even more as residential waste and recycling practices shifted and most of the country’s trash was generated in remote or work-from-home environments. Concerns over Covid-19 infection led to a rise in single-use materials, while increased online shopping meant a huge amount of cardboard delivered to homes.