Waste Disposal had been the problem almost every country, community, family and each individual. This problem had been present a long time ago. And just like any country in the world, New York City was facing this problem through generations. The answer to this problem is the proper management of waste. But the question is where to put those waste. This paper will discuss where the recyclable and non-recyclable wastes in New York City were put.
The largest landfill in the world can be found in Staten Island in New York. It is known to be the New York City’s Fresh Kills landfill. Due to the continued increase in waste disposal of the people in the city, the landfill was closed on January 1, 2002. The closing of the landfill was pushed by the law of the state in 1996. The court charges with regards to the air pollution which were caused by the giant dumps of garbage, both recyclable and non-recyclable, were the main reason for the implementation of the state law. In addition, the city government was also thinking that it would be impossible to pay for the cleaning of that mountain-like garbage dumps (CCCC).
The closing of New York City’s Fresh Kills landfill was 10 months earlier than the said closing time stated by the state law. It was about to be closed on the month of January 2002 but it was closed earlier in the month of March 2001. However, a very important need for a dump site due to the bombing of the World Trade Center, to take over the remains of the building, the landfill was reopened in September of the same year.
It was almost 60 years of the landfill usage since the first time it was built. Over time, generations through generations, the landfill’s adverse effect on the people of the Staten Island has been felt. An ‘environmental disaster’ as it was recognized. Because of this, the people of New York were thinking of how to minimize this disaster caused by the Fresh Kills so that no other cities would become another victim of its disastrous existence. Several waste management programs were adhered by the city’s government and of non-government organizations to address this problem.
Where those recyclables and non-recyclables garbage goes?
Those trashes came not only from home but can be found all over the city. From your way to school or work and your way back, in the pedestrians or public places such as supermarkets, parks and preserves, in government agencies, public transportation vehicles, recreational facilities and sports places, there can be wastes.
Considering that New York City’s population is around 8 million people, which increases to around 12 million during the day when travelers are on the city for work or school, it is not impossible why New York City would face such garbage crisis. In addition to this, the presence of many businesses, several establishments such as schools, universities, colleges, museums, and government agencies and facilities also is a major reason why this thing happened.
A fact shows that around 13,000 tons of trash and recyclable were produced everyday. This comes from the houses of residents of the city and from establishments. And another 9,000 tons from leftover foods, dirty papers and recyclable containers produced from the commercial segment of the city. Moreover, additional quantities are from the garbage coming from constructions and demolitions (Union).
Looking at those enormous quantities of recyclable and non-recyclable, it is not impossible for someone to think where this trash goes. There may be landfills where these wastes were put on and there are also several waste management programs that were implemented by the city. However, landfills may not be able to accommodate these large quantities of garbage. What the government had thought of are the plans for better waste disposal and management such as recycling and other methods. There are also state laws that were imposed.
New York City has thought of and practiced of putting those recyclable and non-recyclable trashes to places outside the city. There were landfills that are distant to residential area and to the city. The city had also used incinerators as a way out. However, exportation of trash into distant landfills costs a large amount of money. And in 2000, the costs have increased about 91%, paying the price of at least $100 for each ton of waste. As a result, the council of New York City brought up far-reaching recommendations on how to take care of the garbage. The city council had recommended lessening the production of waste or the avoidance of producing it through recycling, reuse, and to turn organic wastes into compost.
To The Landfills
The former plan of the administration of Bloomberg was to pack together those trashes that come from the residential areas and to put it to distant landfill through barge or rail. However, considering the costs of the project would be another problem. The projects actual cost amounts to twice the costs while it is still in plan. For that reason, the administration had come to find new proposals for disposing those trashes. The usual proposals that had been passed through mayors and mayors of the city are about trucking, using incinerators and composting and to put in the ground the garbage.
The mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg had decided to reconstruct the eight Marine Transfer Stations which are situated around New York City. These Marine Transfer Stations were used before as a way of gathering and transporting the trashes from the city to the Fresh Kills landfills which is situated in the Staten Island. That Fresh Kills landfills nonetheless stopped its operation since 2001.
However, the re-opening of the eight Marine Transfer Stations was not that easy and will take much money and time since renovation would not meet the terms needed for the disposal of wastes. A need for demolition, expansion and rebuilding those stations was proposed by the city officials. In addition, an amount of $400 million would be needed and the whole process would take about six years before those stations can start its operation once again, prior to the administration’s projected cost of $240 million and time duration of two years (Lipton).
A call for assistance with the private contractors and for companies which deals with disposing trashes was the decision made by the Bloomberg administration. It was an additional idea prior to the first plan of re-opening the eight Marine Transfer Stations. This decision made them to situate facilities for exporting the trashes at a lower cost. At this rate, the cost for the reconstruction of two of the eight stations would be removed. Those are the South Bronx and Greenpoint, Brooklyn Marine Transfer Stations.
New ideas were needed by the administration. For that reason, the Bloomberg administration had hired consultants for waste disposal to find and assess alternatives for a longer term. Such alternatives are the use of semi-submersible ship that will bring the trashes to far places like the Caribbean. Another long-term alternative that could be used is through the use of new technologies such as turning the trash into a natural gas. Another alternative is turning trash into a stone-like material which can be reused also through the use of new technologies.
Building Trash Plants
Building trash plants are one of the proposals the consultants suggest to be evaluated. The trash plant would be located inside the New York City. The trash plant would work by exposing the garbage to a high temperature of about 30,000 degree Celsius and heat the garbage. Through this process, the trash would be broken into components of elements which will produce byproducts of natural gas and a stone-like residue. The byproducts of natural gas would then be used as a power source to operate the trash plant.
One recycling company had proposed a process called gasification plant which can alter the exportation of the trash of the Staten Island. The alternate process this gasification would do is to recycle the waste or disposing it without shipping it to other place. The recycling company was the Visy Industries which is located at the Staten Island. The idea might come from their knowledge since the company’s business was recycling papers.
Recycling, Reuse, Composting
The people of the New York City had proposed a plan called Reaching for Zero. This was a plan which intends to lessen the exportation of the wastes of New York to almost zero within 20 years. The processes employed in the plan is through prevention of waste disposal, the reuse of used materials, recycling of trash that can be recycled, and turning the wastes into compost. Reaching zero not only intends to get rid of the cost of exporting the trash to landfills outside New York City. But also to make the money that are spent on waste management to travel within the economy of New York City. Through this, additional industry and jobs will be generated and not making the money goes with the garbage exported to the landfills outside the city.
Some of the fundamentals of Reaching Zero are by 2024, there will be zero waste in New York City, and to make the recycling program to continue to exist and become stronger for longer-term. In addition, building or constructing infrastructure that will be needed for the reuse, recycling and composting of wastes is a must. Programs with regards to the proper waste disposal and prevention reuse and turning garbage into compost will be addressed to the trashes which cannot be recycled such as metals, glass, other type of plastics and papers. Also, from the mind focused onto the exportation of the trash to other places, must be changed into an economic-minded citizens with which can help in the economy to maintain and put the money in the circulation within the city’s economy and not to go with the garbage to the landfills outside the city. The good effect of the zero waste plans on the environment would also be maintained.
The people of New York City were encouraged to reduce their waste disposal, to reuse the reusable materials whenever it is possible, and to recycle by the Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse, and Recycle. Those recyclables were also sold by the Bureau. There are also public instructions about the recycling of wastes and prevention the Bureau held for the citizen of New York City. Composting of organic wastes was also encouraged by the Bureau and is responsible for educating the people about composting.
Since November 1986, the recycling program had been in operation in New York City. This program’s main goal is the reduction of the exported wastes to the landfills outside the city. There were a number of different programs included in the recycling program for the recyclable and non-recyclable wastes. To name some are the curbside collection, containerized collection, collections of garbage at night, recycling of metals in large amount, proper disposing of tires of automobiles, etc.
There are also a regular collection of wastes scheduled. The targets of the collection of refuse were the residential households, public schools, government institutions, and of several establishments in New York City. There were 5,150 trucks allocated by the government to collect curbside refuse which is about 54,200 tons of wastes and were scheduled twice or thrice every week while 400 EZ-Pack and Roll-on/Roll-off containerized trucks is allotted to the collection for the containerized sites which is about 7,300 tons of wastes and occurs once to thrice weekly. The collection is dependent and was based on the density of the population in that area.
The 59 districts of New York City are monitored intimately to make certain that the intended purpose was achieved and the superintendents within each district are responsible for the evaluation of the routes and tonnage at constant so that these goals were met (DSNY).
As a response to the problem of waste disposal and the answer to the question “Where does New York City’s recyclables and non-recyclables end up at?”, New York City had been filling up landfills outside the city, using technologies to produce byproducts from trash, using alternatives and methods like recycling, reuse, and turning the waste into compost. Through this, there is a possibility that the problem regarding waste disposal can be stopped.
CCCC. “New York City’s Garbage Crisis”. 2006. April 23 2007. <http://concernedcitizens.homestead.com/FKfacts.html>.
DSNY. “Refuse and Recycling Collection”. 2007. April 23 2007. <http://www.nyc.gov/html/dsny/html/collection/refuse.shtml>.
Lipton, Eric. “City Seeks Ideas as Trash Costs Dwarf Estimate”. 2003. April 23 2007. <http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4303>.
Union, Consumers. “Nyc Zero Waste Campaign Announces Release of Community-Based Plan for Zero Waste in Nyc”. 2007. April 23 2007. <http://www.consumersunion.org/pub/core_other_issues/001263.html>.