December 2, 2003
Round & Round & Out of Sight

trashrecycle.jpgAt the risk of encroaching upon Gothamist's turf, we're going "local" for a moment. Today's New York Times unfurls a piece about the city's budgetary problems in dealing with the increasing costs of ridding the five boroughs of the thousands of tons of trash it produces daily. Given Mayor Bloomberg's oh-so-non-green anti-embrace of recycling initiatives, it may or may not be of any great concern that this particular article appeared in newspapers which must have used thousands upon thousands of tons of wood pulp for today's Times paper production. But that's beside the point. We're talking about trash here, not the Times. Or vice versa?

The article floats a number of ideas entertained by city officials as they attempt to locate novel (and cheap) ways of dealing with the refuse, which is currently de-Manhattanized by trains heading north and trucks making

"about 240,000 trips a year to and from New Jersey, mostly over the George Washington Bridge, taking at least 30 minutes to travel each way. In addition, 250,000 or so trips are made on the region's highways by tractor-trailers taking the waste to landfills in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio. A tiny part of the city's 11,000 tons a day of residential trash goes to a landfill in upstate New York."

The "radical" alternatives being bounced around by officials include some well-nigh science fiction-esque proposals, such as building "three 900-foot semisubmersible ships" which "would carry as many as 18 of the old-style barges at a time to landfills in the northeastern United States or to an island in the Caribbean...where an incinerator would be built." Or how about the one where the city builds "a trash plant within New York City that would heat waste to such a high temperature — perhaps 30,000 degrees — that the garbage would break into elemental components, creating byproducts of natural gas and a stone-like residue. The gas the plant would create could be used to power it."

One idea seems to go unconsidered, however. Taking a "virtuous" cue from Vice President Dick Cheney, perhaps we, as residents of this great urban environment, might consider engaging in a bit of that age-old conservation? This includes heartily embracing responsible packaging initiatives and being wary of products and corporations that fail to do likewise. Just a bit of "personal" public policy, if you will.

Until then, "Happy Holidays!" from low culture.

(Sidebar: Today's Daily News is coincidentally running an article that tangentially touches upon both issues, i.e. the city's budget and its trash. It seems New York's chief marketing officer, the same jackass who brought us the Snapple-in-schools initiative, wants to plaster advertisements all over the city's trash cans to generate revenue. Someone, please help us.)

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