NYC Is Wasting Money

In a city of more than 8 million people, how do you contain all of the waste that is produced? It’s certainly an undertaking to manage all of the garbage produced by that many people on a daily basis. And New York City is no stranger to waste management problems. In the late 1800s/early 1900s, NYC’s streets were absolutely filthy. Garbage littered the streets as well as animal carcasses. It was truly a (disgusting) sight to behold. And even though the city has come a long way in its waste management reform, it appears that the city could still be doing more.

According to an article on Patch, 1 million tons of garbage were thrown out in the year 2017; unfortunately, only 1.7% of that was recycled properly. In principal, that’s pretty bad. We should be doing a better job of properly recycling our garbage. However, to make matters worse, the City of New York is missing out on large sums of money for not recycling properly. Compost is a pretty bankable industry. The Independent Budget Office took it upon themselves to crunch the numbers, and, at its current rate, New York City would produce roughly 500,000 tons of compost every year. Assuming that the compost sells for $10/cubic yard, the City could be looking at a cool $12.5 million.

Additionally, the City also produces biogas (a concoction of gases created from organic matter in the absence of oxygen). If the City was to sell that biogas for electricity, it would make an additional $22.5 million. That’s a grand total of $35 million if the City can get its act together. And it isn’t terribly difficult for New Yorkers to access recycling bins for their organic waste. Right now, the Department of Sanitation runs a curbside organic waste program for 3 million citizens that features curbside bins for disposal. That’s approximately 5 million citizens that don’t have access to organic disposal, but the incentive for the program still stands.

And additional $35 million in the City’s budget could be a major boon. As someone who tries to be as environmentally conscious as possible, I think this is a worthwhile endeavor to pursue. The City of New York should crack down on its citizens to help the planet a bit more and focus on proper organic waste disposal.