By Phil Corso
Those long lines have paid off for Queens recyclers as the city Sanitation Department released results from its first series of SAFE Disposal Events, and out of all five boroughs Queens led the pack with the most participants pitching in to properly ditch electronics and other harmful household products.
Out of the more than 11,000 city residents who came out, Queens drew a total of 3,743 residents dedicated to being environmentally responsible. Scores of people lined the sidewalks and parking lots around St. John’s University in Jamaica April 28 and some waited hours to chuck their junk without hurting the planet.
“We knew these events were a great opportunity for New Yorkers to clean out their storage units, basements, garages and closets of their harmful products,” said Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty. “We were very pleased by the turnout.”
Of the 269,564 pounds of electronic waste collected in Queens, Sanitation said most of the recycled goods were made up of electronics and household hazardous waste, including paint, oil, cleaners, acids, batteries and lamps. Ditched cell phones also made up more than 350 pounds of the waste.
“It was a pleasure working with the Department of Sanitation and the Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling and we are pleased with the turnout,” said Steve Skurnac, president Sims Recycling Solutions, Americas, which handled 15 tractor-trailer loads of electronic waste. “Everyone did a great job promoting these events and making them as convenient and accessible as possible for the residents, which we know are key factors to increasing the recycling rates for old electronics.”
David Hirschler, deputy director of waste prevention for the city Sanitation Department, said he was surprised to see so many residents turn out in Queens.
“We always knew Queens was heavy. There are a lot of homes with garages and basements where people have room to store things,” Hirschler said. “But we really were very much overwhelmed with what we got there. It was a massive turnout.”
The SAFE Disposal Events collectively gathered nearly 1 million pounds of harmful household products throughout the city, Sanitation said, allowing New Yorkers to safely discard their items. While electronic equipment and paint were the most commonly disposed items, Sanitation said, the events collected more than 40 different types of materials.
“It was incredible seeing New Yorkers showing up by car, foot, subway, taxi, bike and even horseback to drop off their materials,” Doherty said.
Though Queens drew the most participants, Staten Island took home the title of heaviest load of recyclables with 281,182 pounds from more than 2,000 residents. Brooklyn was not far behind with 204,911 pounds of waste collected from 2,307 residents.
Manhattan came in second to last with 2,276 residents coming out to discard of 80,092 pounds of waste. The Bronx deposited the least, with 79,368 pounds of waste from only 694 participants.
Sanitation said the SAFE Disposal Events were being planned to be held each spring.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.