Being bad at recycling is an expensive habit to keep. New York City exports its garbage to landfills outside of the city, and 3.2 million tons of solid waste a year at that. In dollars, DNAinfo reports that process costs $300 million, but unaccounted-for externalized costs are more difficult to measure. Communities burdened by pollution from inefficient waste transfer stations, and the combustion of the hundreds of trucks carrying waste to them daily, can deal with asthma hospitalization rates for children under four nearly twice as much as communities without these transfer stations. It's for this reason that areas of North Brooklyn, Queens and the South Bronx are fighting for equitable distribution of New York City's weighty garbage burden, as their waste transfer stations deal with 70 percent of New Yorkers' trash.
According to DNAinfo, the relapse is rooted in a series of budget cuts that suspended glass, metal and plastic recycling in 2002. The numbers haven't recovered since, which is perhaps why Mayor Bloomberg has made an ambitious pledge to divert twice as much NYC garbage from landfills by 2017. Precisely how that feat will be accomplished is still being determined.
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