It is estimated that New York generates over 14 million tons of garbage in a year. That’s more than any known city in the world. All this garbage needs to be collected and disposed of in the safest way.
However, New York has very narrow streets which are often affected by long traffic jams. That makes garbage collection a nightmare for the city authorities. But even if they manage to collect the trash, where do they dispose of it? After all, land for disposal is running short in this city and the surrounding areas.
How does the city deal with these challenges? The city has had to come up with a system that encompasses two city agencies. Apart from that, the trash is transported using trucks, barges, and trains. The total number of city-owned hauling trucks stands at more than 1,700. In addition, there are over 248 waste hauling companies operated by private individuals. The city operates a number of makeshift as well as permanent waste management facilities some of which are halfway around the world.
What Is the History of NYC’s Waste Management?
By 1657, when New York was still known as New Amsterdam, the city was already grappling with rubbish, ashes, filth, and dead animals dumped in the streets. Two centuries later, the city appeared to have been overrun with horse manure, a clear health hazard for the residents. In fact, from the time of its establishment to the mid-1900s New Yorkers disposed of most of their trash into the ocean. That was the time when up to 80 percent of the city’s ended up in the sea.
How would they deal with this unrelenting menace? In a master-stroke waste management initiative, NYC used some of the rubble, ash, and other debris to create artificial land around the city. That’s how it was able to increase its size. Mention any of its priciest neighborhoods and you will discover it is built on garbage, literally.
Why Does New York Have Two Waste Management Systems?
The trash generated in New York City is managed through the public or private systems. The public system deals with waste from government buildings, residences, and non-profit organizations. Private waste management firms handle the waste generated by commercial businesses, mostly debris and rubble from construction sites.
Where Does The Garbage From New York End Up?
The trash is first separated into three groups: mixed solid waste, metal/glass/plastic or paper. Each type of waste will be collected separately and made to follow a different path to the final destination.
After the garbage is collected, it is deposited at various transfer stations around the city. The garbage is then loaded on a train or barge and transported for 600 miles to the final destination which is mostly a landfill for a large percentage of it. About 20 percent of the waste is taken to an energy production plant where it is incinerated and used to produce electricity. Glass, metal, and plastic waste is sent to recycling plants in New York or exported to China or India.
That should be the longest journey for a piece of trash anywhere. Top Things to Do in New York City