Official NYC Public Space Recycling — Now in 906 Locations City-Wide — Has Arrived at Washington Square Park

Official NYC Public Space Recycling!

Previously, there was somewhat make shift recycling at the park that appeared in early 2011 and I wondered at the time if WSP might get some shiny, flashy bins like other parks had. Now, through a joint effort by the Department of Sanitation and the Parks Department, Washington Square has been added as one the city’s official public space recycling locations!

From 2002 (when Mayor Bloomberg cut recycling of plastics and glass in New York City, citing it as too costly) to 2009, I was very involved in reuse and recycling with a group I co-founded called Recycle This!. I remember in 2007 when the city’s public space recycling pilot program began in 8 locations throughout the five boroughs. It is now up to 906, quite an improvement, and Washington Square Park is one of them.

Recycle Your Tree at WSP This Weekend by the Arch – Keep Your Tree Out of the Landfill

People Started Dropping Off Early near Arch?

“MulchFest” comes to Washington Square Park this weekend Saturday, January 7th and Sunday, January 8th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. by the Arch. You can recycle your tree in the chipper into mulch at locations throughout the city. This is coordinated by the Parks Department and the Department of Sanitation. Keep your tree out of the landfill! You can get some mulch at the drop-off sites.

Curbside pick up of trees is ongoing this year from January 3rd to January 12th. Whether dropping off or leaving on the curb, remove all tree stands, tinsel, lights, and ornaments from trees.

I always find it a bit sad watching trees go in the chipper. One year, when the Department of Sanitation canceled curbside pickup, a group I worked with, Recycle This!, went around picking up discarded trees on the streets of Brooklyn! I wrote about that here.

Mayor Bloomberg Puts Tree in the Chipper

Million Dead Trees?

Recycling Now Available at Washington Sq Park

Washington Square Blue Recycling Bins Have Arrived

It’s unclear when these blue recycling bins arrived but you can now recycle your bottles and cans at the park instead of tossing them in the trash.

Not many public spaces in New York City have recycling available so this is a good thing. The NYC Department of Sanitation through a public space pilot program in 2007 began offering recycling of bottles, cans and newspapers in select locations, and it has been expanded since that time. The initiative at Washington Square appears to be a Parks Department effort.

Union Square and City Hall Park have these shiny bins

Union Square and City Hall Park (part of the Sanitation Department’s program) have fancy bins like these shown at left. They also offer green bins which hold newspapers; Washington Square does not offer that presently. I would imagine the bottles and cans are the bigger issue here.

Many of the city park’s recycling initiatives seem to be done in combination with a private entity such as a local BID (Business Improvement District) or Conservancy. It is unclear if an entity is sponsoring this effort at Washington Square (no response on that from Parks Department).

Nonetheless, a large number of bottles and cans are thrown out here, and, without recycling, they would just end up in a landfill, further contributing to New York City’s tremendous amount of trash (NYC residential garbage equals 12,000 tons per day; commercial waste is about the same amount daily) that goes there already.

The best answer, of course, is to not use plastic and reduce and reuse!