Published: April 19, 2011 6:15 PM
Some of us recycle to do something healthy for the planet and feel good about it. Some of us recycle because we then pay less to get rid of our nonrecyclable garbage. But whatever the motivation, we need reminding. Clearly, on Long Island, we haven't received enough reminders. Our local governments need to do a better job of that.
A new study from Stony Brook University's Waste Reduction and Management Institute and the Department of Technology and Society shows recycling rates for municipal programs have declined. They were at 29 percent in 1998, but just 24 percent in 2009. On average, Suffolk does better than Nassau, and some Suffolk East End towns do better than the rest.
In fact, the report shows, Shelter Island, Southampton and Southold have the highest recycling rates. They also have pay-as-you-throw systems: People pay for how much garbage they throw out, but recycling is free.
That strongly suggests that others should explore the pay-as-you-throw idea, to see if a version of it might work in more populous towns and cities.
At the very least, whatever else they do, the municipalities should increase recycling education. The report says San Francisco has 30 people working on improving recycling rates. On the Island, it says, there are just two, working for town governments.
As our trash output grows, our other options -- burning it and shipping it out of state -- will be overwhelmed. So our best bet is to make less garbage, by recycling more. Do it for the planet or for your budget, but do it. hN