CleanRiver Recycling Solutions A division of Midpoint International Inc.

Tips for Complying with the New York City Recycling Mandates.


The NYC Department of Sanitation (DOS) states that it’s illegal for recyclables to be collected in the same bag as garbage.

Here’s 5 top tips to help you avoid facing penalties:

1. Keep recycling and trash together.

Reduce your stream contamination by keeping waste and recycling bins together. If bins become separated people will use the closest bin rather than the correct bin to toss their waste. The NYC DOS states that it’s illegal for recycling to be collected in the same bag as trash, or to be placed in the same compartment of a truck or container with trash.

Avoid penalties by selecting a solution that collects all your streams in one container. You can then coordinate the opening colors with the posters or labels to help people make the right choice.

2. Use High-impact stream labels.

There are three types of collection the NYC DOS states you should comply with: source-separated collection, co-collection or single-stream. Work with your waste hauler to determine which one applies to you and then use high impact graphics to help people toss their waste into the right stream.

The use of images along with text has been shown to have a staggering impact on how much waste you divert from landfill. A study by the University of Toronto discovered that their diversion rate increased by 164% with the use of facility-specific images on their recycling posters.

Similarly, a High School in Ontario reduced their recycling stream contamination by 72% when they introduced images on their recycling posters.

3. Use restrictive openings.

This helps people make the right choice when discarding their waste. It’s often advised to use a narrow opening for paper and a round opening for cans and bottles.

Typically, people have 2-3 seconds to make a decision as they approach a recycling container. Using consistent colors for the openings to match those of the high impact stream labels helps people sort their waste into the right bin.

4. Secure your recyclables.

The New York State Returnable Container Act provides a refund on returned beverage containers. If you’re planning on placing recycling containers in public spaces, make sure you select containers that are secure to prevent theft.

Refund programs such as these are an ideal source of funding for your recycling program and help you comply with the recycling mandates.

5. Tell everyone about the program.

Communication is a key component of a successful recycling program. You need to let everyone know about your program and what you’re collecting.

When the Langley Events Centre launched their new recycling program they used local radio advertising and high-impact signage within the arena to communicate to fans.

Holding training sessions with your employees to let them know about your program goals and what types of trash are recyclable has a big impact on the results. Culture is a key driver of recycling program success and it needs to be driven from the top down.

All businesses in New York City are now required to collect metal, glass, plastic, beverage cartons, paper and cardboard for recycling. Businesses are also required to separate and recycle the following:

  • Textiles if they account for more than 10% of your waste during any month
  • Food waste generated in food service establishments, food manufacturing facilities, food vendors in stadiums and arenas and food manufacturers. Click here for a full list of the rules.
  • Yard or plant waste if they account for than 10% of your waste during any month

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