Although the city still plans to resume the recycling of plastics in July, a joint task force of the Bloomberg administration and the City Council is casting doubt on the date for glass recycling to resume.
The current law calls for the resumption of glass recycling on July 1, 2004. But the task force, which has been studying recycling, has concluded that the deadline may not be feasible. Although the task force has not signed off on a final report, a working draft declares, "This reinstatement should not occur until such time as the city is able to adequately address the problem of glass breakage and contamination of the mixed recyclable stream." It also said the city needed to find better markets for used glass.
The report gives no date for the return of glass recycling. Glass is the most difficult thing to recycle, city officials say. It is heavy, which makes pickup and collection expensive, and fragile, meaning that it can break and contaminate other recyclables, making an entire batch less attractive to buyers. But a private company recently surprised the city with an attractive bid for its plastics; if a company were to make a tempting bid for its glass, the situation could change quickly.
The task force plans to recommend several ways to make recycling more successful.
Officials said they planned to study a system that would charge people for garbage collection sometimes called pay-as-you-throw. The Bloomberg administration looked at such a system last year but concluded that it would be difficult to put into place in New York City, because it would be hard to measure who threw what out in high-rise apartment buildings.
The draft report notes that such a system could encourage recycling, since it would give people an incentive to throw out less regular garbage to keep their costs down. But it warned that the system could also lead to spoiled batches of recyclables, because some people might try to sneak their regular garbage in with their recyclables.
The draft also calls for studying a system in which people could throw their metal, glass, plastic and paper into a single container, which could encourage more recycling, and for moving recycling pickups from once a week to every two weeks in some neighborhoods. And it calls for supporting a change to state law that would expand the nickel deposit for noncarbonated beverages like bottled water, juices and iced teas, so those bottles could be taken out of the garbage stream.
A spokesman for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Jordan Barowitz, said, "It would be irresponsible to comment on the report until the task force has finished its work."