Theses Master's

Improving Recycling: An Analysis of Formal and Informal Recycling in New York City

Jovine, Olivia Maria Titania

The purpose of ‘Improving Recycling: An Analysis Of Formal & Informal Recycling In New York City’ is to make policy recommendations for the long-term systemic change to New York State’s bottle bill legislation and the city’s municipal recycling programs. The policy recommendations seek to increase recycling productivity while providing benefits to informal recyclers, commonly called “canners”. As such, this thesis will investigate the New York Department of Sanitation’s public space recycling program and systems of recycling as mandated by the state’s bottle bill; including but not limited to, describing processes of deposit and redemption for bottles and cans. This thesis also includes descriptive analysis of the practice of redeeming bottles and cans for their five cent deposit value. Through a general quantitative and qualitative analysis of formal and informal recycling systems for bottles and cans, several policy recommendations for legislators at the city and state level are proposed. This thesis has direct implications to the field of urban planning by seeking to remediate environmental and social justice issues and improve urban quality of life. By diverting municipal solid waste from landfills and incinerators air quality is improved and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. It is concluded that the public space recycling program is a valuable component of municipal recycling; redemption centers not only need to be “rebranded” but the number of locations should be increased; and finally, the bottle bill legislation should be reimagined and applied to a material that currently has no national market value (plastic bags, textiles, or compost).

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Irazabal Zurita, Clara E.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 17, 2015