Crack, Guns…Recycling?

Glock and jar copy

Recycling…by the environmentally sensitive.

When I was a cop in NYC in the eighties, it was a big hoot to learn that crack houses, to avoid any attention from the city at all, made sure the garbage they put out at the curb was properly separated as regular, or recyclable. They needed to stop the Sanitation Police from knocking on their doors and seeing something…revealing. Smart cookies, ( marked on a curve of course ). Their M.O: “Yeah, we got guns and drugs inside but we do recycle.” Those wild days of NYC are gone now. But recycling is still a focus of many local governments.

Today, in Long Beach, NY there’s a Sanitation truck going down the street every day getting its must-do job done. But it takes tax-bucks to make that truck keep-a-truckin’. We need to keep the cost as low as we can.

The cost of garbage going to a landfill is currently $88.47 per ton, while the cost of recycle-waste is $2.50 per ton. That’s not eggshell difference! Easy to see, we really need to decrease the tonnage on the former by increasing the tonnage on the latter. The real problem of course is the insane packaging. Pens in bulbous plastic clam shells or cardboard sheets for bitsy memory cards. But that’s another blog post.

Single StreamDSC_9462

Single Stream recycling, easy peasy

I recall the early recycling days when we had to remove labels from bottles and cans, what a pain in the butt. Then we had to separate the stuff but we didn’t have to remove the labels, big improvement…but still a drag. Now we don’t even have to separate! It’s called Single-Stream recycling. It’s sweeping the nation and as of this Jan. Long Beach is in the stream. We save money on waste-tonnage costs, manpower, resource deployment and maintenance.

Now my research reveals real controversy over Single Stream’s total effectiveness. There is difficulty in processing unsorted material; some items, (I E glass, hello packaging? Do we really need pickles and jelly in glass?) are damaging the recyclability of other items. The Atlantic:


Certainly, the issues must be dealt with. But the bottom line is we, the taxpayer, save money. And if the costs of reprocessing the Single Stream recyclables are more than multi-stream recycling, I’m sure the market will sort it all out, so to speak. I’m confident improved processing technology will come to the rescue. The important thing right now is maximum participation. The more people that recycle the greater the success. We all need to do our part and it couldn’t be easier for you.

Jack Schnirman, our City Manager, gave the very green light to this program in Long Beach. And he deserves kudos for it.

Here’s Jack’s comments to me on the program:

Hello Lee,

The City of Long Beach has transitioned to Single Stream Recycling, an easier, more efficient, and environmentally friendly recycling method in January. Long Beach is one of the first communities in Nassau County to begin this innovative program, in which all your recycling are collected at one time in a single bin.

San menIMG_1246

The more recycling, the less WASTED tax money..

It costs the City $88.47 per ton when garbage is taken to a landfill, versus $2.50 per ton of waste that is recycled. By making recycling easier, the percentage of waste which is recycled should continue to increase, saving the City significant money in sanitation costs. Prior to the transition, we paid about $11 per ton for recycling removal, though some of that was returned based on how much recycling the City accumulated. So we will not just save by moving recycling out of our garbage but by recycling in a more efficient manner.

In the first two months of the year, we have seen a 16.2% year-over-year increase in recycled materials, from 278.39 tons in 2014 to 323.51 tons in 2015. This has resulted in the City saving $3,878.97 given the significant difference in the cost to dispose of recycled material instead of regular garbage.

But more savings and increased productivity are realized when we look beyond recycling tonnage. The City personnel and trucks used for recycling pickup needed to do two cycles in one day to collect all the City recycling. Now fewer staff and trucks can do one cycle in one day to collect all the City’s recycling. This means manpower and equipment can be shifted to other needs. The City no longer needs to hire additional staff in the summer to separate and load recycling stored at the old yard because it is now done offsite. In fact, the yard itself and its full time staff and equipment can also be repurposed. Furthermore, the need for less trucks and equipment means the need for less gas refills and vehicle service, such as tire replacement and mechanical breakdowns.

Morale also increases, as a one-cycle recycling work day is comparable to any other work day, decreasing shift call outs and the need to cover those shifts with additional resources.

I hope that does well to show you the various ways in which single stream will benefit the City. Please let me know if you have any additional questions about the City’s new intitiative.


I really don’t know how a Long Beach resident can complain about government waste if he is wasting our waste-dollars himself by not just throwing all the “good stuff” in a different container than the “bad stuff.”

Pickle jar w dollar

Don’t throw out the cash with the glass, recycle.

Hey, you finished your burger and you’re washing your hands at the sink. Now just rinse out that pickle jar too and save us all a few bucks. How can you not participate with a program like this? If you can’t help in such an easy way, I’m afraid you’re gonna have to relinquish your Wastewatchers (no weigh-in required ) card, my fellow City-by-the-Sea burgher.

Check out the chart below to see what’s good, what’s not. You don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to get it.

And you don’t have to be a “local” to flow with the Single Stream either. You guys across America and around this clam-shell-pencil-packaged globe, if you haven’t joined yet, jump in.

A personal note to any of you crack dealers still hanging on in NYC…pick up after your dogs too, thank you very much.

Be well,
in thecitybythesea

A couple more blog posts of mine on our environment:



recycle chart 10x14

From City of Long Beach info.org


2 replies »

  1. Glad it opened your eyes. It’s a matter of developing a good habit. Once you get into doing it it becomes second nature. You empty a container and you recycle if you can. Thanks for the response and support.


  2. Thanks for this great eye opener. I hope everyone sees how simple yet important recycling is and takes the suggestions to heart. Thanks for an inspiring report!


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