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In for the long haul.

Recycling advocates who just a couple of years ago singled out New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as someone leading a charge in the wrong direction--away from recycling--must now re-examine their criticism of the mayor's policies.

The Bloomberg Administration has announced its plans to make a long-term commitment to residential recycling, forging a partnership with Hugo Neu Corp. to construct a $25 million MRF to handle metals, plastics and glass. (Paper collected by the city currently goes to either the Pratt Industries mill in Staten Island or to the Metropolitan Paper Recycling facility in Brooklyn, though the new MRF will reportedly take in paper eventually, too.)

Initial plans for the new MRF seem to demonstrate a willingness by city planners to listen to and to learn from the tactics of recyclers who have long kept their eyes on the bottom line while recycling.

It will take more than two years to upgrade an existing pier in south Brooklyn and to build the MRF, which will be able to receive and ship materials by barge. By 2007, they expect to have a facility in place that can handle much of New York's residential recyclables for years to come.

Reportedly, the city will make an effort to entice consuming facilities to locate near the new south Brooklyn plant, much the way Pratt Industries takes advantage of New York's recycled paper supply with its mill on Staten Island.

The strategy may well bring together the elements that profitable recyclers have been urging municipal recycling advocates to consider all along.

In the hands of a long-time scrap recycling company like Hugo Neu Corp., recyclable commodities are likely to be treated as what they are-industrial feedstock with a trade value. Some critics have long contended that solid waste companies who have entered the recycling field are too often guilty of treating their collected recyclables as something they are obligated to bale and ship, while their real business interests remain directed toward their landfills.

Hugo Neu Corp. has not promised city officials that the recycling contract will result in the elimination of the expenses to collect and process material. But the company has convinced the city that with a tipping fee that will slide down (once paper is included in its mix), it can guarantee to handle materials for less than the cost of shipping them to increasingly more distant landfills.

If nothing else, the 20-year contract between New York City and Hugo Neu Corp. will make a fascinating experiment. Challenges for Hugo Neu will include running a different kind of sorting plant than it is used to running and in determining the most cost-effective way to handle collected glass.

But there is much to root for in an arrangement that should allow the Big Apple to take advantage of a resource--old cans, bottles and newspapers--that can not be found in the same volume anywhere else in the United States.
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Title Annotation:Editor's Focus; Materials Recovery Facility; Hugo Neu Corporation
Author:Taylor, Brian
Publication:Recycling Today
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Oct 1, 2004
Previous Article:Wedded to the idea.
Next Article:Weapons of scrapped destruction?

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