On Heels of Chicago’s “Managed Competition” Recycling Program, New York City Gets Recycling “Czar”

The City of Chicago is currently using  a “managed competition” program to expand and improve Chicago’s recycling (in which the city is divided into six zones, with Waste Management collecting from three, Midwest Metals Management collecting from one, and city workers collecting from two). As Chicago tries to improve its recycling rate, so are comparable large cities across the United States.  Recently, New York City hired the former head of Philadelphia’s RecycleBank to become deputy commissioner for recycling and sustainability.

Hot on the tail of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s promise to dramatically expand residential curbside pickup services in his recycling-impaired city, the Bloomberg administration has just made a big move in its sluggish but ongoing efforts to elevate New York City’s lagging-behind recycling operations from its “after-school clarinet program” status and double the city’s current recycling rate of 15 percent by the year 2017.

Late last week, it was announced that Birdie Ron Gonen, the 37-year-old co-founder and erstwhile CEO of Philadelphia-launched recycling rewards program RecycleBank, has been appointed as the NYC’s first recycling czar. The official title of the newly created position? It’s a big name for a big job: Deputy commissioner for recycling and sustainability.

“Ron’s years of work in the recycling and sustainability field perfectly matches the needs that we have at the D.S.N.Y. so that we can meet the mayor’s specific goals,” said New York City sanitation commissioner, John J. Doherty, in a statement announcing the hire.

Some of the initiatives Gonen will try to implement in New York might be models for waste management advances in Chicago, including expanding the number of recycling receptacles on public sidewalks and initiative curbside pickup of organic wastes. Comparing Chicago’s waste management systems with those of other cities will ensure Chicago residents get access to the best possible ways to reduce the amount of waste they dispose of in landfills.

These issues have been examined in several Roosevelt courses, including SUST 240 Waste and SUST 210 The Sustainable Future (offered both online and downtown this fall). For more information on these or any other of our courses, visit our Sustainability Studies website, call 1-877-277-5978 (1-877-APPLY RU) or email applyRU@roosevelt.edu.

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