The nation's biggest city is marking Earth Day by announcing an ambitious goal of reducing its waste output by 90% by 2030. The plan, set to be unveiled today by Mayor Bill de Blasio, includes an overhaul of the city's recycling program, incentives to reduce waste, and tacit support for the City Council's plan to dramatically reduce the use of plastic shopping bags. New York, which has about 8.5 million residents, would be the largest city in the Western Hemisphere to adopt such a plan, which aims to reduce the amount of its waste by more than 3 million tons from its 2005 level of about 3.6 million tons. The plan is part of an update to the sustainability project created by de Blasio's predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. De Blasio is keeping components of that plan but rebranding it OneNYC.
"The average New Yorker throws out nearly 15 pounds of waste a week, adding up to millions upon millions of tons a year," de Blasio said in a statement to the AP. "To be a truly sustainable city, we need to tackle this challenge head-on." For decades, the city's trash has been exported by rail or barge to South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or upstate New York; the new plan would eliminate almost all garbage exports, which currently cost more than $350 million a year. A key component of the initiative: bolster recycling output by simplifying existing processes. Improvements to the plan include using one type of recycling bin in residential buildings (not two), expanding organic-waste collection efforts, and also cutting commercial waste down. A de Blasio spokeswoman said some funding for the plan would be revealed in next month's budget proposal. (Read more New York City stories.)