The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Green Jobs of the Future

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the current political buzz phrases, “green jobs of the future”, gets under my skin. The 2 shots in today’s posts are what I call “snatch and grabs”, meaning that I was passing by- took a couple of quick shots- and beat it out of there. This is one of the many recycling facilities one may find in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I bring them to your attention not because of intrinsic merit or photographic interest but rather to make a certain point about this particular political meme. Non union and dirty, the recycling side of waste management enjoys a certain vogue amongst the elites of the intellectual and political class, but the truth of it is somewhat different. Were these elites to actually walk the neighborhood streets where their ideas are made manifest, one wonders how their enthusiasm would fare.


Place all paper together in CLEAR bags, or in any bin labeled with green recycling decals or marked ” MIXED PAPER”. (Or place in the white dumpster for paper recycling, if your building has one.)

Flatten and bundle large pieces of corrugated cardboard and tie with sturdy twine, or break into small pieces to place in your recycling bin or bag. (Or place loose in the white dumpster for paper recycling, if your building has one.)

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A neighbor of mine works in one of these plants, located like this one near the Newtown Creek, and has described the process of collection and sorting to me in some detail. Most of this paper ends up getting pulped and processed into shipping boxes. Raw paper is sold by the ton to be shredded into pulp, and free market vagaries apply. He’s told me that as the economy has tanked, so too have the orders for boxes from online retailers (a large part of the recycled paper market), which has depressed the market. His literal quote, which was said without a hint of irony, is that “the bottom has dropped out of the cardboard box market”.


In the Solid Waste Management Act of 1988, the Legislature established our State Solid Waste Management Policy. The following are the solid waste management priorities in New York State:

  • (a) first, to reduce the amount of solid waste generated;
  • (b) second, to reuse material for the purpose for which it was originally intended or to recycle material that cannot be reused;
  • (c) third, to recover, in an environmentally acceptable manner, energy from solid waste that can not be economically and technically reused or recycled; and
  • (d) fourth, to dispose of solid waste that is not being reused, recycled or from which energy is not being recovered, by land burial or other methods approved by the department (from New York State Environmental Conservation Law 27-0106.1).

The primary mandate of the Solid Waste Management Act is to reduce the amount of waste destined for landfills and incinerators in New York State. Source separation and recycling programs are fundamental components to the diminishing of the ultimate volume of solid waste requiring disposal. Source separation and recycling play primary roles in meeting this goal. In New York State, municipalities are required to enact local recycling laws under General Municipal Law section 120-aa.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 30, 2010 at 9:27 am

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