Two news stories came out this past week that demonstrate New York City's commitment to fulfilling its promise of doubling its recycling rates from 15% to 30% by 2017. First off, we were excited to hear that the New York City Department of Sanitation selected Ron Gonen, one of the nation's leaders in recycling, as its new Deputy Commissioner for Recycling and Sustainability. In an interview with the New York Times, Mr. Gonen said that the initial areas he would focus on are increasing the number of recycling bins in public spaces and beginning to pilot programs for curbside collection of organics (to see our blog post on Portland's curbside composting program). Through his role as Founder and former CEO of RecycleBank, Ron has helped both residents and municipalities recycle more and save money. We look forward to working with Ron to achieve the same results in New York City. In a similar vein, The New York Department of Sanitation recently endorsed the Sustainable Packaging Coalition's "How2Recycle" labeling program, which assigns one of four labels to each component of a packaging item to indicate whether and how to recycle each component (the types are Widely Recycled, Check Locally, Not Yet Recycled, and Store Drop-Off) and also includes instructions concerning consumer action before recycling. The label is designed to address the confusion that many customers have felt about recycling, such as whether to wash out a carton, whether the spray top on the cleanser bottle is recyclable, or whether the "chasing arrows" around the number on plastic packaging means it is recyclable (hint: not necessarily!).
The program soft-launched earlier this year, and packaging for products made by ten companies, including Seventh Generation, REI, and Microsoft, will include the label through early 2013. In the meantime, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition will be collecting consumer feedback at its website. Global Green is delighted to see this labeling program implemented, and looks forward to a time when it could be adopted more broadly to clarify and encourage participation in New York City, and recycling programs across the country.