New York City Parks Not So Green

November 9, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

An abandoned car in Pelham Bay Park on Monday. (Courtesy of NYC Parks Advocates )
An abandoned car in Pelham Bay Park on Monday. (Courtesy of NYC Parks Advocates )
NEW YORK—Although the Bloomberg administration has often touted its green policies and New York City parks seem naturally green, an investigative report by the New York Post has found that city parks are not recycling like they are supposed to and are carelessly dumping waste.

"Not much gets recycled. We pick up everything—furniture, concrete, even dead animals," said an anonymous worker whose route covers parts of Brooklyn parks, in a Post article.

The New York City Recycling Law requires the city to collect and recycle residential paper, glass, metal, plastic, and other material. However, the Parks Department, which is responsible for the largest amount of city land (14 percent), is not required to recycle what is collects in parks.

Meanwhile, New York City home, apartment, and business owners face fines for not recycling.

Each year the Department of Parks & Recreation collects more than 35,000 tons of garbage, according to NYC Park Advocates.

"This administration has spent an enormous amount of resources trying to convince the public that it is concerned about the environment," said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates.

"Recycling is environmentalism 101. This administration is simply not committed to recycling, which hurts not only the environment but the taxpayers. It is indefensible that garbage collected in city parks goes to landfills.”

Of the more than 15,000 trash receptacles throughout the city's park system the Parks Department has only a handful of recyclable receptacles in 18 parks. In 2008, the city also canceled its composting program, which had collected 20 tons of leaves annually.

Despite having leaves from more than 2.5 million trees and 750,000 more coming, according to the mayor's One Million Tree initiative, the parks department is now forced to buy compost.

The State Solid Waste Management Act requires New York's municipalities to ensure that garbage is separated into "recyclable, reusable, or other components for which economic markets for alternate uses exist."