Recycling: How to Improve Resident Compliance

Recycling is mandatory in New York City, with the goal of decreasing the 12,000 TONS of garbage that must be exported out of the City every single day. While 77% of this waste is recyclable, only 20% is actually being recycled currently. Since the closing of the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island in 2001, there has been no landfill in the City of New York. There is also no incinerator, so all our garbage must be exported for separation, treatment and disposal, at a huge expense to taxpayers.

Residents in multi-family buildings recycle at just half the rate of those in single-family homes, for a variety of reasons, ranging from anonymity of disposal to lack of information, poor communication and lack of financial incentives.

Some buildings have had great success in their recycling efforts, using a variety of strategies, including the following:

• Communication: Be sure to provide clear signage and well-marked receptacles in all garbage rooms. The Department of Sanitation will provide free signs to display. Inform existing residents as well as new buyers who are moving in. Hold an informational/social event to inform residents, such as a lobby drop-in to hand out organics pails and recycling bags.

• Education: Take advantage of all 3 additional Department of Sanitation curbside collection services for buildings of 10 units or more: organics, clothing and the e-cycle program for electronics. Inform residents of all these programs and provide bins in the basement for these specialized items.

• Containers: The City gives out free organics pails that can be distributed to residents.

• Enforcement: Gentle enforcement is key to compliance. Some buildings impose fines after a third offense. The board should decide what is the best strategy for your building.

• Rewards: Thank people for good recycling efforts. Some buildings have even held a pizza party for staff and residents as a thank you for good recycling compliance.

• Create a Team: Create a team of owners, residents, managers, and building staff to work together to make the system work. The board may want to appoint a committee to research and implement a plan to improve recycling in your building.

• Convey the Benefits: Saving money on chute cleaning, reducing policing efforts by staff, avoiding fines, preventing rats, improving staff morale if recycling rules are followed—these are some of the benefits of recycling. Collecting organics can help cut down on rats because all the food is placed in completely airtight containers, and not in garbage bags that can rip and leak and that rats and other pests can bite through. And the long-term goal is to reduce the City’s waste removal costs…which will save taxpayers money.

• Education: Free training for staff is available through Union 32BJ and also at the Department of Sanitation.

• More Information: Visit to download recycling guides and info and to learn more about how to educate your staff and residents to help improve recycling in your building.

fresh kills

The former Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island was closed in 2001 and has since been reclaimed as a beautiful public park. Reducing NYC’s waste stream through recycling can help reduce the 12,000 tons of garbage we export daily…by as much as 60%, if New Yorkers are committed to the program.

NYC’s New Electronics Recycling Program Takes Hazards Out of the Waste Stream

Even though many New Yorkers are still not aware of it, a full ban on the disposal of electronics went into effect on January 1, 2015. The grace period for avoiding fines of $100 per violation is about to end, so be sure all residents are up to date on the newest recycling regulations.

Enacted by Governor Cuomo in 2010, the NYS Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act is overseen by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The law went into effect in stages, with the final stage being the January 1, 2015 statewide ban on the disposal of electronics, except through acceptable recycling avenues.

If you live in a building of more than ten units, your property is entitled to free “room cleanout” service by the New York City Department of Sanitation, under their new “e-cycleNYC” program. These buildings can collect and store unwanted electronics and arrange for pick-up by calling 212-437-4647 or emailing Pick-up is guaranteed within five business days.

Buildings of 50 or more units will be provided with a locked storage bin in which to collect electronics for pick-up within three business days of contacting the e-cycle program. Properties with 250 or more units can contact the City to schedule e-cycleNYC events on the premises, and inform residents of when and where to bring their electronics for pick-up. According to the City’s website, data on electronic devices will be fully erased by e-cycleNYC as part of the recycling process if you live in an eligible building.

The City will pick up large electronic devices including TVs, VCRs, DVRs, DVDs, cable and satellite boxes, video game consoles, computers and peripherals such as hard drives and keyboards, printers, scanners, fax machines. They will also pick up small devices such as tablets, mobile phones, MP3 players, and iPods.

Americans dispose of about 400 million electronic devices every year, adding a huge volume along with a wide range of toxins to the waste stream. According to Kathryn Garcia, Commissioner of the NYC Sanitation Department, electronic equipment has become the fastest-growing component of the hazardous waste stream. “By recycling electronics, New Yorkers can help decrease disposal costs and protect the environment,” she said in a statement about the new law.

In addition to the e-cycleNYC pick-up programs, other recycling options for New Yorkers throughout the state include retail drop-off locations at Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Best Buy, Staples, or the Gowanus E-Waste Warehouse in Brooklyn. The City also has scheduled SAFE (solvents, automotive, flammables and electronics) Disposal Events throughout the five boroughs. For 2015 dates visit Visit for more information about selling or donating electronics that are still working, and for more information about the new electronics recycling regulations.

Visit for more information about the new electronics recycling regulations.

Visit for more information
about the new electronics recycling