Mayor Bloomberg Pushes a Green Agenda in his final State of the City Address

Besides banning styrofoam and making way for electric cars, the mayor vowed to tackle New York City’s final recycling frontier: food waste.  NYC buries 1.2 million tons of food waste in landfills every year at a cost of nearly $80 per ton. That waste can be used as fertilizer or converted to energy at a much lower price. That’s good for the environment and for taxpayers. This spring, NYC will launch a pilot program to collect curbside organic waste from single family homes in Staten Island, for composting. If it succeeds, they’ll develop a plan to take it citywide.

"We're already the most tech-friendly, transparent government in the country and now we're raising the bar again. We'll make New York City a national leader in another new technology:
electric vehicles. This year we'll pilot curbside vehicle chargers that will allow drivers to fill up their battery in as little as 30 minutes as opposed to the normal 8 hours.

"We'll work with the City Council to amend the Building Code so that up to 20 percent of all new public parking spaces in private developments will be wired and ready for electric vehicles, creating up to 10,000 parking spots for electric vehicles over the next seven years.

"We'll add 50 more electric vehicles to the city's fleet of cars, and we'll put the first six fully electric taxis on the road - with the goal of making one-third of our taxi fleet electric by 2020. We'll also make permanent the East River ferry service that we started in partnership with
Speaker Quinn and the Council - which has been a huge success.

"And the biggest change to our transportation network in ages is coming this summer:
the largest bike share program in the country. I know Marty can't wait. Bike share has been successful and popular in every city it's been tried - and here, it will offer New Yorkers more options to get around town faster.

"All of these transportation initiatives will help us achieve one of PlaNYC's top goals: giving New York the cleanest air of any big city in the country. Remember: Clean air means you live longer. Even if you don't care about climate change, cleaning our air is good for your health.

"Speaking of climate change, we've reduced our carbon footprint by 16 percent in just five years. Now, we'll challenge the city's leading corporations to join City government in cutting their carbon footprints by 30 percent in ten years.

"We'll also take major new steps toward another important sustainability goal that we've set: Doubling the city's recycling rate to 30 percent by 2017. Under Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty's leadership, we've created a comprehensive plan to achieve that goal. It starts with making recycling easier for everyone - by putting 1,000 new recycling containers on streets in all five boroughs this year. We'll also make it possible to recycle more plastics.

"As part of our solid waste management plan, a private company - SIMS - will open the largest household recycling plant in North America on the Sunset Park waterfront. The facility is raised four feet above grade - and came through Sandy just fine. When it opens this spring, it will accept all kinds of plastics - from salad containers to CD cases. It will create up to 100 jobs and have a state of the art education center to teach children about recycling. In addition, the plant will be powered by one of the largest solar installations in our city - and the largest wind turbine to operate here since the Dutch built windmills in New Amsterdam. The CEO of the SIMS recycling center, Bob Kellman, is in the audience today, and I want to thank him for helping us build a greener future.

"As we recycle more plastics, we'll also tackle New York City's final recycling frontier:
food waste. We bury 1.2 million tons of food waste in landfills every year at a cost of nearly $80 per ton. That waste can be used as fertilizer or converted to energy at a much lower price. That's good for the environment and for taxpayers. This spring, we'll launch a pilot program to collect curbside organic waste from single family homes in Staten Island, for composting. If it succeeds, we'll develop a plan to take it citywide.

"We'll also take food recycling in schools citywide. There is no better way to teach the next generation about the importance of recycling than to make it a part of their school day routine. It has been phenomenally successful where we've tried it - and I want to thank all the parents who were so supportive. I know some of them are with us today - please stand up so we can give you a hand.

"Now, one product that is virtually impossible to recycle and never bio-degrades is Styrofoam. But it's not just terrible for the environment. It's terrible for taxpayers. Styrofoam increases the cost of recycling by as much as $20 per ton, because it has to be removed.

"Something that we know is environmentally destructive, that is costing taxpayers money, and that is easily replaceable, is something we can do without. So with Speaker Quinn and the City Council, we will work to adopt a law banning Styrofoam food packaging from our stores and restaurants. And don't worry: the doggie bag and the coffee cup will survive just fine.

"As ambitious as our agenda is this year, we'll pursue it with the same fiscal discipline that has helped us to weather the national recession better than most other cities. We'll balance our budget, we'll do more with less, and we will not raise taxes. In my 2009 campaign, I pledged we would not raise taxes on New Yorkers - and we haven't. We will continue living within our means - and we will not burden the next mayor with contracts the city cannot afford. We'll also continue to take the long view, even with only a short amount of time left. And with that approach, we will keep our city on course for success.

"We have accomplished much - but we have much more that we can accomplish. The state of our city is stronger than ever - but it can be stronger still and together, we'll make it such....”

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