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Bloomberg Leaves de Blasio a Waste Management Morass

The NYC Sanitation Department's budget has tripled over the past 17 years, despite Mayor Bloomberg's waste management reforms. With recycling rates dismally low and a long-range management plan stalled, Bill de Blasio will have to clean up the mess.
December 19, 2013, 12pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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To stabilize the rising costs of New York City's waste management, Mayor Michael Bloomberg undertook two key reforms. First, he suspended plastic and glass recycling when he entered office. "The recycling rate — meaning, the percentage of material kept out of landfills — was 20 percent before the cuts," reports Amy Eddings. "In 2005, a year after they were restored, it was 16.8, according to the Mayor's Management Report for Fiscal Year 2005. It's never been higher than that. If you add the collection of old electronics, motor oil and yard waste, New York City's overall recycling rate is about 27 percent. By comparison, San Francisco's recycling rate is around 77 percent, Los Angeles, about 62 percent, and Seattle about 51 percent."

In 2006, the Mayor pushed through the second key reform - a controversial Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP). But, as Eddings explains, "The SWMP has become a swamp, mired in litigation and politics. Just one of the seven facilities the city was supposed to build is operating."

With recycling rates dismally low and implementation of the SWMP stalled, "Mayor Michael Bloomberg is leaving the incoming administration of Bill de Blasio with a pile of unfinished business."

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Published on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 in WNYC
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