Recycling Facts

New York City has no landfills or incinerators, yet residents produce 12,000 tons of waste every day. What happens when you throw something away?

In reality, there is no "away".

Our discards are buried in the ground, burned or recycled into new products. NYC's non-recyclable waste is sent to landfills in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia. Much of Manhattan's waste is incinerated across the Hudson River, in New Jersey. Paper waste that is properly separated from regular garbage is recycled locally or is processed for further recycling overseas. Glass, metal and plastics collected at the curbside are sent to Brooklyn and New Jersey, where they are processed and sent to various recycling markets.

Waste in the United States

  • The United States produces 33% of the world's solid waste, with 4.6% of the global population.
  • 80% of US products are used once and then thrown away.
  • 43% of dumped or burned municipal discards, by weight, consists of packaging and containers, or disposable products such as paper or plastic plates, cups, diapers, junk mail, trash bags, tissue paper and towels.

Waste in New York City

  • New York City residents currently recycle only about 17% of their total waste--half of what they could be recycling under the current program.
  • 7.5% of our waste stream consists of plastic film such as supermarket bags.
  • Clothing and textiles make up 5.7% of our waste.

Does Recycling Work?

  • Recycling is a vital component of NYCs 20-year plan to handle our waste in an environmentally sensible, economically viable manner.
  • Exporting our garbage to other communities cost New York City taxpayers $290 million in 2007.  This does not include the cost of collection.

Waste Less, Breathe More

  • Diesel trucks carry Manhattan's garbage 7.8 million miles every year. That's the equivalent of driving more than 312 times around the earth!
  • Landfills are responsible for 36% of all methane emissions in the US, one of the most potent contributors to global warming.

Close the Loop: Buy Recycled

  • Using recycled materials to make new products saves energy and other resources, reduces greenhouse gases and industrial pollution, and curbs deforestation and damage to ecosystems.
  • There are more than 4,500 recycled-content products available.
  • More than 90 percent of printing and writing paper still comes from virgin tree fiber

In a moment where New Yorkers have turned to parks and gardening to ease the mental and emotional strain the Covid-19 pandemic has taken on residents, when the need for education surrounding nutrition and health couldn’t be more critical, the same nonprofits that make green space and nutrition education possible are in danger of going under, while vital city agencies like the New York City Parks Department’s GreenThumb program are facing severe budget cuts.

  • Food Access & Agriculture

    Our network of Greenmarket farmers markets, Youthmarkets, Fresh Food Box pick-ups, and Greenmarket Co. ensures that all New Yorkers have access to the freshest, healthiest local food.

  • Conservation

    We provide food scrap drop-offs, clothing collections, Stop 'N' Swap® community reuse events, and zero waste trainings to make resource conservation easy for all.

  • Green Space

    We build and rejuvenate community & school gardens in all 5 boroughs, and support even more gardens through volunteer days, technical assistance, school garden grants, & more.

  • Education

    We foster future environmental stewards by providing 66,000 children each year with programs that provide meaningful interactions with the natural environment.