The Public Interest

Recycling: myths and realities

Roger Starr

Spring 1995

A WEEK before the 1994 elections, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani received a piece of very good news from the New York City Department of Sanitation, perhaps the last good news he was to receive for quite some time. The department reported that the market for used newsprint (the paper on which newspapers are printed) had become so strong that the city would now receive $10,000 a day for bringing discarded newspapers to wastepaper dealers instead of paying the dealers $10,000 a day for taking papers off the city’s hands. The prospective net savings enabled the mayor to reduce the department’s annual budget by $5 million a year—a tidy sum, though, in effect, it constitutes less than 2 percent of the department’s $326 million budget for waste removal and street cleaning while newsprint constitutes about 8 percent of its total waste stream.

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