A Deeper Dive into Waste and Recycling Workshop: Resources

If you joined us in February for the recycling and waste workshops, you may have learned a wealth of information from Education and Outreach Coordinator of Sims Municipal Recycling, Kara Napolitano! This presentation built off of the first part of the mini-workshop series on waste (resources here) that gave a brief overview of the recycling basics and tips on reducing waste in our everyday lives.

Kara covered a generous amount of information on how our recyclables are processed, why certain items are accepted and others are not, and gave us tips on how we can become better recyclers. The resources she has shared with us in the workshop and in this post are based in a NYC setting, and I’d encourage you to dig a little deeper if you are from another city (because every city’s recycling service may have different requirements and accepted materials).

What is and is not recyclable in NYC?

Visit nyc.gov/sanitation or check out this list. If you are a visual learner, DSNY offers free infographics and decals to help people remember which items go into which colored bins.

Free infographics on accepted recycled materials can be found on the DSNY website for New Yorkers

I’m confused about the numbering system around recycling plastics. Can you clarify what these mean?

In a nutshell, NYC’s recycling messages will say that the DSNY accepts rigid plastics and not to worry too much about what each number means. These numbers were created by the plastics industry to indicate what kind of plastic the item is made of. If you are curious, most recycling programs will accept #1 (PET or PETE) and #2 (HDPE) plastics, but always check with your city’s program to be sure!

How do I recycle soft plastics (such as plastic film, plastic bags, etc.) in NYC?

There is a website called Plastic Film Recycling that lists thousands of locations where you can drop off soft plastics in the US.

Pro tip: Shell, one of our attendees, offered a great resource from Slow Factory where they offer upcycling workshops for plastic bags!

What other items can I divert or recycle in NYC?

You are able to recycle food scraps at drop-off sites or with residential pick-up services throughout the city (bit.ly/NYCdropofftracker), and participate in textile recycling with Wearable Collections and electronic recycling locations (LES Ecology Center has recently resumed their e-waste collection events). If you live in an apartment building, you can help your building apply for textile recycling and electronic recycling bins!

An important note from Kara: Since we are still practicing public health precautions due to the pandemic, if you are going to a drop-off site, contact these locations first to find out if and what they are currently accepting.

What do I do with “hard-to-recycle” items that aren’t accepted in my city’s recycling program?

Terracycle hosts a variety of take-back and drop-off programs that you can participate in. You may choose to purchase a zero waste box, for example, or find a drop-off site for the item you’re looking to recycle. There are some recycling programs that they offer that are free, such as their contact lens and blister pack recycling program!

I want to learn more about recycling and waste; where can I find out more information?

Kara often posts additional education resources on the Sims Recycling Education Center website. If you go to this site, you can also register for more tours (and in-person ones once it’s safe to do so!) Additional tips on recycling and future events will also be shared on their social media accounts – follow @simsmuni on Twitter and Instagram!

Couldn’t find what you were looking for? Try visiting the previous workshop’s resource page where I’ve shared NYC, US-based, and worldwide resources for recycling and waste reduction. If you have other suggestions that aren’t already included here, please feel free to send your notes to me at ahealthyblueprint@gmail.com or on Instagram @ahealthyblueprint.