Basics of Recycling in New York City


What You Need To Know About Recycling In New York City

In New York City, recycling is a must and all residences, schools, agencies and institutions that receive services from Department of Sanitation are supposed to ensure that they recycle waste products. Recyclable items should be divided into different receptacles for cardboard and paper, metal, glass, cartons and plastic.

Who Collects the Recycling Products?

The DSNY (Department of Sanitation in New York City) is responsible for collecting the recyclables and taking them to private processing plants that are currently under a contract to deliver their services. Each neighborhood in the city has its own recycling date, so you should check with the DSNY to ensure you do not miss out on the recycling dates.

Are there Recycling Containers in New York City?

Interestingly, the DSNY doesn’t supply bags or bins for recycling. Nevertheless, it is possible to use rigid containers for storing your recyclables provided they are between 18 and 32 gallons. Outdoor recycling containers should be clearly marked on all sides, including the lids. For indoor containers, you are required to label indoor-use-only using DSNY decals.

Some of the accepted recycling materials include:


Paper & cardboard segment:
• Newspapers, catalogs, and magazines
• Colored and white pater
• Envelops and mails
• Wrapping paper
• Soft covered books
• Paper bags
• Cardboard
• Pizza box

Beverages segment:
• Plastic bottles, jars, and jugs
• Plastic caps
• Plastic food containers
• Plastic packaging
• Glass jars and bottles
• Metal cans
• Aluminum trays and foil wrap
• Household metal

Bulky Recycling Items in New York City

The DSNY picks up 6 bulk items in New York City from every address. Rigid plastic or metal appliances that are too huge for the recycling container must be placed at the side of the container you used to store your recyclables. To safely get rid of all the appliances that contain Freon or CFC gas, such as freezers, refrigerators, dehumidifiers or air conditions, call for an appointment to know when you will put the recyclable item outside for recovery.

Mattress and lumber from garden or construction projects are not necessarily recyclable. This means they can be placed outside on normal garbage collection days. Nevertheless, you can always choose to donate some bulky items to NGOs in New York City.

Compost Recycling

Organic waste, which includes food scraps, Christmas trees and other organics, can be recycled in New York City. The program for collecting organic waste started from single-family houses in high rise apartments. A starter recycling kit containing an organics bins as well as three months’ supply of compostable liners were delivered to the participating households. Once the organic waste was collected separately, DSNY collected it and sent it to local compost facilities.

Electronics Recycling

Due to the new recycling laws in New York City, it is now illegal to throw electronics into the trash. Hence, computers, servers, televisions, TV peripherals, portable devices and computer peripherals are now eligible for take-back initiatives from their respective manufacturers and are therefore outlawed from disposal.

New York City apartments are also expected to take part in the innovative e-cycle NYC program that offers buildings free pickups of their entire electronic waste. Buildings that are bigger than 10 units that join this program are usually eligible for room cleanouts, storage bins and also electronics recycling events.

Household Hazardous Waste Recycling

New York City Department of Sanitation has special sites that accept specific HHW products, including automotive and household batteries, mercury thermometers, thermostats, transmission fluid, car tires, motor oil, fluorescent bulbs and latex paints among others. Some disposable sites also accept batteries, paint, medicine, and pesticides, besides electronics. Since fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, they should be sent to drop-off sites or returned back through mail service.

Missed Recycling Collection and Any Other Fines

Violating the recycling laws carry fines starting from $25 to $10,000. Generally, you will first get a couple of notices before your case is elevated to getting fines. Buildings that contain 10 or more units that get 4 or more recycling notices within 6 months are eligible for a very significant fine. These fines are meant to encourage people to recycle more. For missed collections, call 311 to reschedule.

Importance of Recycling in New York City

New York City residents will be helping to save the environment through engaging in effective recycling. This is because harmful greenhouse gasses and chemicals are normally released from land fill sits. For people, preserves natural resources so that the future generation can have something to be proud of. Furthermore, considering that the city is running out of places for landfills, recycling is the best way to eliminate the requirement for more landfills.