Here's a dirty little secret just in time for Earth Day — the city’s commercial recycling rate stinks.
The amount of waste city businesses generate is nearly twice as high as previously reported — and it’s being recycled at a far lower rate, according to a study to be released Monday.
The “Transform Don’t Trash NYC” coalition found that only about 25% of the trash produced by businesses every year is recycled. Earlier estimates of the city’s recycling rate for businesses pegged the number at 40%.
A whopping 5.5 million tons of commercial waste is produced in the five boroughs each year — 2 million more than the city’s previous estimates, the study said.
The green coalition — which includes the Alliance for a Greater New York, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and the Teamsters union — uncovered the eco-unfriendly stats in a 2012 Sanitation Department report by the Halcrow Group, a private consulting company, that was never released publicly.
Residential recycling is handled by the city, but commercial recycling is handled through private trash haulers.
The coalition found those private companies operate a “grossly inefficient and highly polluting” waste removal system that clogs city streets.
In one instance, a commercial strip in Midtown was serviced by 22 different companies, according to the study.
“It’s out of control. We call it the ‘Wild West,’” said Kirsti Barnes, the deputy director of Alliance for a Greater New York.
By the group’s estimates, some 4,200 private waste trucks are driving around the city six nights a week.
The average private hauler travels 12 miles for each ton of waste — compared with 4miles by city fleets.
“We’re creating so much pollution,” said Barnes.
The report offers several possible solutions that would boost commercial recycling rates and reduce the number of trucks emitting pollutants on the streets.
The main recommendation is to create a “zoned system” for removing commercial waste, with private haulers competing for the exclusive right to collect waste in designated areas — a method that has proven successful in cities such as Seattle and San Jose, Calif.
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