Solving Cities

Where does New York City's garbage go? [video]

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The waste statistics for the largest city in the U.S. are staggering. See how complex systems make waste management function in New York City.

With more than 8 million people living in New York City, the waste statistics are staggering.

Each week, the city collects at least 64,000 tons of household and institutional waste. In 2009, during the average waste collection shift, each one of the 2,000-plus garbage trucks collected 9.9 tons of trash and 5.6 tons of recyclables. But the story doesn't end at the curb.

Behind the scenes, complex systems are in places to manage the massive amount of waste: collecting it, sorting it, and shipping it all around the world. Urban Omnibus explores the waste management systems in New York City with the help of Elizabeth Royte, author of Garbage Land. She goes into detail about how NYC's waste management systems have evolved over the years, how they work today, and where trash in the city goes when it leaves the curb.

Here's the video (warning: it might make you think of your garbage collector as a ballerina):

The video is part of a series called City of Systems, which takes a look at the complex urban systems that make New York City function.

Photo: drewgeraets/ Flickr

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure