New York City Department of Sanitation

Recycling Program: Better Controls and Increased Commitment Are Needed to Ensure its Success

In April 1989, the New York City Council enacted Local Law 19, which required that the Department of Sanitation (Sanitation)establish a comprehensive re- cycling program. The law included requirements regarding the volume of re- cyclable materials that should be collected each day. Sanitation estimates that the recycling program cost $121 million in fiscal year 1993. During fiscal 1994, Sanitation had contracts with 14 privately run material recovery facilities for processing metal, glass, plastics, and paper products. Sanitation is currently supplying four of these processors with metal, glass, and plastics, and six with paper. Sanitation paid $13 million to vendors in fiscal 1994. Sanitation is not meeting the requirements of Local Law 19. The law required that Sanitation re-cycle at least 700 tons daily by April 1990, increasing to 4,250 tons daily by April 1994. During fiscal 1994 Sanitation recycled only 2,064 tons daily. Sanitation officials indicated that the Department would need a substantial budgetary increase to meet the law's requirements. However, due to the City's financial crisis, Sanitation has actually decreased staffing for its recycling education and enforcement programs. We also found that Sanitation has not ensured that there is adequate accountability over recycled materials that it delivers to vendors . As a result the City may not have an accurate picture of the ongoing performance of the program. In addition Sanitation needs to improve its controls over the reporting of recycling statistics. A-8-94