Fordham Road goes green and blue in recycling effort

The blue bins are for bottles and cans, the green bins for magazines and newspapers. Photo by Daniel Beekman

Wilma Alonso can see one of the Bronx’s new recycling bins outside her office window. She can see shoppers hustle by. And Alonso can see Fordham Road’s future.

It’s green.

On Monday, October 27, the Fordham Road Business Improvement District announced the installation of public recycling bins on Fordham Road and a fresh partnership with the Department of Sanitation. The bins were placed at the E. Fordham Road-Grand Concourse overpass and the intersection of E. Fordham and E. Kingsbridge Road.

“[The recycling bins] are a good idea,” Pamela Lynn, who lives on 183rd Street said. “This should keep the road cleaner and the air more precious.”

Four other Bronx locations also had bins installed: Third Avenue, Broadway, the New York Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo. The city has embarked on an expansion of its public space recycling program – part of a 20-year Solid Waste Management Plan adopted by the City Council in 2006.

“We’re very excited to be one of the only BIDS in the Bronx to get these bins,” Alonso said. “We want to educate shoppers and storeowners to reduce, reuse and recycle.”

A BID crew will continue its supplemental maintenance of Fordham Road between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., emptying garbage baskets and now recycling bins as well. The program won’t cost much; Sanitation Department trucks will collect the bins’ contents along existing recycling routes.

“Because of careful planning by the Sanitation Department, this expansion of public recycling will have virtually no impact on the city’s budget,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “We’re adding 33 new sites to the ten existing public locations where New Yorkers can recycle newspapers, magazines, and bottles and cans.”

Bloomberg, who heralded the expansion at City Hall Park on October 27, called it an example of “how we’re continuing to improve New York’s quality of life even as city agencies tighten their belts to deal with the current downturn in our economy.”

Alonso doesn’t expect Fordham Road shoppers and storeowners to catch on instantly. Some will throw garbage into the bright blue and green recycling bins – blue for bottles and cans, green for newspapers and magazines.

Others will keep throwing recyclable items into Fordham Road’s garbage baskets. Decomposing food and other types of garbage render recyclable items un-recyclable. It’s called “cross-contamination.”

Used correctly, however, the recycling bins will eliminate cross-contamination, saving the city time and money. Sanitation Department workers won’t need to dig through garbage bags for recyclables anymore.

“It’ll be good to have [the bins],” Darge Marcial, on her way to work from 167th Street, said. “Because too many people just throw their empty bottles on the floor.”

Fordham Road’s BID has distributed fliers about the new recycling bins to storeowners and shoppers.

“We’re already seeing people do the right thing,” Alonso said. “They’re littering less and paying more attention to recycling. Hopefully people will learn that recycling is important and start to separate their trash at home.”

According to Alonso, Fordham Road produces more than its share of waste.

“We collect 165,000 pound every month,” Alonso said. “Fordham Road is a high-traffic shopping district. It’s best to collaborate with the city and with storeowners on this.”

First and foremost a commercial enabler, Fordham Road’s BID moved into environmental advocacy this year. Three and four-year olds from a daycare center wrote the BID a letter.

“They asked us to do something about the environment,” Alonso said.

Rather than put Fordham Road storeowners on the defensive, Alonso organized the daycare’s children to conduct a survey about environmentally friendly business practices.

“The kids were so well prepared,” Alonso said. “They can’t read yet, so they used pictures.”

The BID followed up with an 800-participant Fordham Road Green Walk in May.

“I think my mom recycles at home,” Virgil Liburd, a Grace H. Dodge High School student, said. “[The bins] are eco-friendly, and they look awesome.”

More from Around NYC