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Bloomberg Unveils Recycling Initiative in Times Square

By Alan Neuhauser | March 15, 2013 2:00pm

TIMES SQUARE — The Great White Way is going green.

Thirty solar-powered recycling stations have been installed throughout Times Square, the Times Square Alliance announced Friday morning, making the Crossroads of the World the home of the city's largest public-space recycling initiative.

"We want to encourage visitors to Times Square to recycle, so we are trying to make recycling easier," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. "By year's end, our administration will put 1,000 new recycling containers on streets in all five boroughs."

The citywide recycling initiative, geared toward doubling the city's recycling rate to 30 percent by 2017, is emblematic of the mayor's shifting stance on city recycling. In 2002, he suspended glass and plastic recycling to cut costs, which caused the city's recycling rate to drop to just 11 percent the following year.

Last month, however, Bloomberg changed his tune, backing a ban on Styrofoam containers that was being considered by the city's Sanitation Department.

"Making recycling easier for New Yorkers will build on our work to make our entire system of solid waste management less polluting, more energy-efficient, and more sustainable, both economically and environmentally," Bloomberg stated.

Times Square attracts more than 500,000 visitors a day, the alliance says, who generate about 15,300 pounds of trash daily, enough to fill 900 garbage bags. The recycling stations unveiled Friday — BigBelly units purchased with a $250,000 grant from the Alcoa Foundation — can be remotely monitored, and they compact waste to can hold five times more trash than traditional garbage cans. 

“Sometimes in Times Square, we nurture habits that are, shall we say, a bit less wholesome,” said Times Square Alliance president Tim Tompkins said. “Today it's all about helping a habit that helps the planet.”

The recycling bins are part of a public space recycling initiative launched in April 2007, part of a 20-year solid waste management plan. The bins will be installed along Seventh Avenue and Broadway between West 42nd and West 47th streets.