Calling New York's Eco-Heros: Restore Your Right to Recycle

As an ardent, life-long recycler, seeing trash and recyclables commingle makes my skin crawl. Treehuggers know that recycling is the least effective of the 3R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) but that doesn’t mean it is not important. In fact, many cities worldwide have substantial bodies of law in place that dictate how to deal with different elements of the waste stream. Specifics of recycling laws vary from city to city as do enforcement techniques.

Despite the fact that both businesses and residents of New York City are required to recycle, it is all too often that I see bottles, cans and paper mixed up in the regular trash. Frequently the reason is that recycling services are not offered by the building – a clear violation of the law. Every New Yorker is entitled to recycling services and the city relies on its citizens to report cases where their rights are being impinged upon. To protect whistleblowers anonymous reports are allowed. Know somewhere this is happening? Be the eco-hero you are and follow the simple steps outlined below to report violations and restore your right to recycle. Start by calling New York City’s quality-of-life hot line, ‘311.’ Explain that you’d like to speak to a Department of Sanitation Specialist to report a recycling violation. After providing a few details about the specific case, such as the address, you’ve done your part. Remember, you do not need to identify yourself. This report triggers a complaint to the owner of the building by the Department of Sanitation, followed by an inspection. The fine for the first violation is a paltry 25 bucks, which might or might not be enough to motivate building owners. However, the rate quickly rises for repeat violators first to $50, then $100 and finally $500. So, keep calling at regular intervals until you can report back to us that your mission has been accomplished. Good luck and keep us posted. Learn more about recycling and other waste related issues at NYCWaste Le$$

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