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Quantities of Different Plastics in NYC's Waste

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UPDATE: NYC is undertaking a new waste characterization study. This summer, we will have new statistics to update the table below based on what is in the waste stream in 2012/13. The information about markets below will also be updated to reflect the current market environment.

In 2004/05, the average New Yorker discarded 107 pounds of different plastic items each year. The table below shows the different plastics NYC residents discarded, and which ones were targeted for collection in NYC at that time.

This table was calculated from the NYC Department of Sanitation's detailed and in-depth 2004-05 Residential and Street Basket Waste Characterization Study. Because of the complexity and importance of plastics, plastic waste was sorted into nineteen separate categories and, where possible, quantified by resin and molding method.

Different Types of Plastics NYC Residents Discard

Figures refer to pounds set out for collection at the curb, per capita, per year;
based upon 2004-05 waste characterization study results,
applied to fiscal year 2009 curbside refuse and recycling tonnages
and 2008 Census population estimates for NYC.

Resin Code

Name

Molding Method

Common Product Examples

Pounds Discarded (annually per NYC resident)

Accepted for Recycling in NYC

Market Status

1
PETE

polyethelene
terephlalate

blow molding

soda & water bottles

9.05

yes

high

2
HDPE

high density
polyethylene

blow molding

milk jugs, detergent bottles

7.01

yes

high

3
PVC

polyvinyl chloride

blow molding

household cleaner & shampoo bottles

0.10

yes

weak(a)

4
LDPE

low density
polyethylene

blow molding

soft-sided juice bottles

0.04

yes

weak(a)

5
PP

polypropylene

blow molding

various bottles & jugs

0.14

yes

weak(a)

7
OTHER

any other type of plastic

blow molding

various bottles & jugs

0.53

yes

weak(b)

1
PETE

polyethelene
terephlalate

injection molding

deli containers

0.04

no

weak(c)

2
HDPE

high density
polyethylene

injection molding

yogurt cups, margarine tubs, take-out containers

0.40

no

weak(c)

3
PVC

polyvinyl chloride

injection molding

various tubs & trays

0.01

no

weak(c)

4
LDPE

low density
polyethylene

injection molding

various tubs & trays

0.03

no

weak(d)

5
PP

polypropylene

injection molding

yogurt cups, margarine tubs

1.29

no

weak(c)

7
OTHER

any other type of plastic

injection molding

various tubs & trays

0.29

no

none(e)

2
HDPE or 4 LDPE or no code

may be one of
many different
types of resins

extrusion

shopping & grocery bags

20.51

no

weak(f)

6
PS
or no code

polystyrene (nonexpanded)

injection molding

clear deli
clamshells, CD cases, tamper-proof packaging

1.83

no

weak(c)

none

polystryene
(expanded), also known as
styrofoam

extrusion

packing peanuts, mail order packaging, cups, plates, clamshells

4.03

no

weak(c)

none

other rigid
packaging

injection molding (usually)

caps, lids, strapping, crates

5.74

no

none(g)

none

single-use plastics

blow or injection molding

disposable cups, plates & cutlery

3.85

no

none(h)

none

all other plastic
durables

injection molding (usually)

hardware, toys, housewares

15.96

no

none
(i)

none

other film plastic

extrusion

garbage & dry cleaner bags, baggies, wraps & wrappers

35.70

no

none(k)

total all plastics
discarded annually per resident:

  106.54 lbs

Notes:

(a) There are weak markets for these plastic bottles and jugs due to the tiny amount in the waste stream, but they were designated for recycling in NYC in order to maximize the return of #1 and #2 plastic bottles and jugs which are very marketable.

(b) There are no markets for these plastic bottles and jugs because #7 refers to a wide range of different resins, but it is designated for recycling in NYC in order to maximize the return of #1 and #2 plastic bottles and jugs which are very marketable.

(c) There are weak markets for these type of plastics when commingled with other plastics, but occasional markets when kept clean, separate, and recovered via take-back programs.

(d) There are weak markets for this type of plastic due to the tiny amount in the waste stream.

(e) There are no markets for this type of plastic because #7 refers to a wide range of different resins.

(f) There are weak markets for this type of plastic when commingled with other plastics, but markets exist for clean, dry shopping bags that people can return to retailers for recycling under the NY plastic bag recycling law.

(g) There are no markets for this type of plastic due to variations in resins and molding method. In other cities' programs that accept #1-7 tubs & trays, these items lead to high contamination rates because they resemble numbered tubs and trays.

(h) There are no markets for this type of plastic due to variations in resins and molding method, and high contamination with food and drink residues.

(i) There are weak markets for some of these plastics, and no markets for others. Generally, marketability of non-numbered plastics is problematic because plastic type cannot be identified.

(k) There are no markets for mixed film plastics found in residential waste. Some material recovery facilities can sort out and market the clear plastic bags used for setout of recyclables. Dry cleaner bags and clean garbage/recycling bags can also be returned to retailers for recycling under the NYS plastic bag recycling law.


ALSO SEE:
what to recycle with sanitation
what happens to nyc's recyclables
what's in nyc's waste: pie charts
focus on residential plastics (pdf)
recycling stats

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