November 11, 2013
By Marc Bussanich
Almost 30 new sanitation enforcement agents will be joining their colleagues to make sure that residents and businesses throughout the city are disposing recyclable items into the correct recyclable bins or else face steep fines. The agents celebrated the completion of their training along with 300 sanitation workers at a graduation ceremony out at the old World War II-era Floyd Bennett Field recently.
One of the agents, Angenette Givan, said she was so happy and inspired to be working as a sanitation agent to help the city increase its recycling rate from the current 15 percent to about 30 percent by 2017.
“I really want to help the city reach its goals to reduce waste, recycle more and conserve energy,” said Givan.
Givan completed six weeks of training where she learned the types of items that can be recycled. The city recently expanded its recycling program to include all rigid plastic objects such as yogurt containers, plastic cups, plastic toys, shampoo bottles and CD cases.
To make sure that city residents and businesses are doing their part, Givan will have the authority to issue summones for failing to recycle from $100 to as high as $2,500.
“It is a steep fine, but it’s the law,” Givan said.
You only have to walk one full city block to see a garbage bin on the corner filled with a lot of recyclable items. It seems New Yorkers might need a crash course on recycling. According to the city, it sends about 22,000 tons of solid waste to landfills every day. Givan said she wants to convey the importance of recycling to New Yorkers.
“People or businesses might think that recycling makes no real impact but it can save us all a lot of money,” Givan said.
Indeed, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who gave the opening remarks at the graduation ceremony, said that expanding recycling will save the city over $600,000 a year and keep some 50,000 tons of plastic from entering landfills annually.
Speaking on the first year anniversary when New Yorkers awoke to see the extent of Superstorm Sandy’s devastation, Mayor Bloomberg praised the efforts of the whole Sanitation Department.
“Hurricane Sandy thrust this department’s incredible work into the spotlight and includes the efforts of many who went far above and beyond the call of duty. I think there was a new respect for the Sanitation Department and an understanding of just what they did that came out of the recovery efforts. I just can’t tell you how impressed I was when I walked the streets for the next three weeks after Sandy and I saw the sanitation workers doing what they had to do get New York City back on its feet,” said Bloomberg.
John Doherty, Sanitation Commissioner, also commended sanitation workers for their herculean efforts during and after the storm. He said that the department is constantly changing and is far different than when he first started in the field.
“When I came on the job, all we did is pick up garbage. Today we not only pick up garbage, we recycle material, which is very important to the city’s environment. If we keep disposing of our garbage in landfills it’s the worst way to get rid of garbage. If we can get more and more people to recycle we’re going to have a better city; we can take those recyclables and turn it into new energy.”