“A lot of it is infrastructure, but also communication and behavior change,” Gonen says. The Brooklyn facility will be equipped with a classroom for students to learn about recycling. New York will also use more barges to move the recycling, which is expected to displace around 418,400 vehicle kilometers annually. When asked if the city could reach San Francisco’s reported 80 percent recycling rate, Gonen didn’t hesitate. “Yes, we can definitely get close to that,” he says.
Although the U.S.’s largest metropolis is playing catch-up, the scale of the city and the variety of housing stock could provide lessons learned for many other U.S. cities looking to recommit to recycling. “If you can make it work in New York City,” Gonen says, “you can make it work anywhere.”