M.S. Thesis: Analysis of Technology and Infrastructure of the Paper Recycling Industry in New York City

By Scott M. Kaufman

Advisor: Profs. Nickolas J. Themelis

Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering
Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Science
Columbia University

May 2004

The objective of this study was to examine the technology and infrastructure of paper recycling in New York City and devise ways for increasing paper recovery. At present, “residential” wastepaper is collected as a separate stream by the Department of Sanitation of New York City (DSNY). In 2003, DSNY collected approximately 414,960 tons of paper, i.e. about 35 percent of the estimated paper discarded in the residential stream. The “commercial” paper generated by private businesses and collected by several private carters amounts to approximately 800,000 tons per year. The NYC commercial paper recycling rate is about 69 percent. The total amount of NYC paper wastes, both residential and commercial, is estimated at about 2,360,000 tons per year. Therefore, the overall paper recycling rate is 50.5 percent, slightly higher than the reported U.S. rate for paper recycling.

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