Discussion Draft on Waste Prevention Coordinators

Maggie Clarke, Ph.D.

May 16, 2001



The NYC Waste Prevention Coalition (NYCWPC) in Spring, 2000 recommended a citywide program to train and deploy waste prevention coordinators, one per each of 59 community boards, for the purpose of increasing waste prevention in the residential sector in the Spring of 2000.  In November of 2000, the City Council, in agreement with NYCDOS, determined that $2.1 million / year would be allocated for a three year program to deploy a far fewer number of coordinators, and that they would focus on both increasing waste prevention and recycling rates.  These coordinators are not only for the residential sector, but a small number 2-4 would be deployed at the Board of Education and at the NYC Housing Authority.



Objectives and Goals


The NYCWPC considers that the objectives of the coordinators, as now envisioned by the City Council appropriation, are as follows:


1.     Increase recycling rates

2.     Decrease recycling contamination rates

3.     Increase reuse in the residential sector by encouraging increased use of thrift shops, rentals, repair shops, and institutionalized means of accomplishing the same results:  Materials for the Arts, NYC Stuff Exchange, Recycle a Bicycle.

4.     Increase the number and size of local flea markets (e.g., swap meets, yard sales), perhaps by working with community gardens and other local groups that could benefit from using these as fundraisers.

5.     Increase onsite food and yard waste composting.

6.     Increase outreach to residents on concrete methods / benefits to them of environmental purchasing.


Methods the Coordinators could use to Achieve Goals


1.               Work with local community organizations to establish permanent or periodic flea markets, and help design and implement advertising.

2.               Work to combine and leverage funding from reuse businesses to increase local knowledge and use of repair, rental, thrift, etc… shops.

3.               Work with the Board of Education to establish vocational durables repair training and apprenticeship programs in a few schools (e.g. for repairing computers, furniture, and appliances).

4.               Work to increase distribution of junk mail reduction postcards

5.               Work with NYCHA to increase onsite food waste composting.

6.               Work with community gardens to increase food waste composting.

7.               Work with food chains to erect environmental shopping signage in stores and on storefronts

8.               Work with estate firms to reduce the amount of usable durables that are discarded

9.               Work to improve DOS' waste prevention hotline (Stuff Exchange)

Methods to measure success


·       The coordinators could conduct before-during-after measurements to show effects of work with reuse shops, flea markets, community gardens, NYCHA and BOE to quantify effects of efforts (e.g.,  number of transactions, weight / characterization of products and food/yard waste kept out of the garbage).


·       To determine effectiveness of environmental shopping campaigns, employ before/after surveys.


Criteria for Hiring Coordinator Trainer / Director

·       Longevity of the organization in the field of waste prevention and/or  recycling

·       Knowledgeable staff, experienced in waste prevention and recycling outreach to individuals

·       Knowledge of New York City and its neighborhoods, cultures, languages, etc

·       Creativity, innovation in leveraging other funds to assist with advertising, other costs

·       Creativity, innovation in achieving goals and objectives of the Coordinators

·       Background in training of educators


Requirements for contract with Coordinators / Directors

·       Research and Networking with other successful programs to inform optimal design of this program

·       Training Coordinators

·       Conferencing among director, coordinators to share knowledge, prevent problems, impart direction

·       Record keeping (goals/ objectives achieved, tonnage prevented, diverted, improvement in contamination rates, etc.)

·       Ongoing Reporting of information gained (to advisory community, City Council, DOS)


Fruitful areas for Projects (see attached pie charts)


1.               Food and yard waste constitute about 20% of the waste stream, and can be composted onsite avoiding collection and providing useful compost.

2.               Durables represent about 15% of the waste stream and successful reuse programs can prevent waste in this area.

3.               Packaging and Nondurables represent about 55% of the waste stream.  Though initiatives directed at those who design and manufacture might be as or more fruitful, environmental shopping campaigns can make consumers more aware of the environmental effects of their purchases and of alternatives that are available, and in some cases, cheaper.