Before we talk about how my city recycles, let me tell you about why I wanted to delve into this! Having lived in Westchester, New York my whole life, I feel passionately about the area and it’s preservation. I grew up in the city of Yonkers and moved to the city of New Rochelle when I was 14 (7 years ago). For those that may not be familiar with Westchester county, it is very unique in that the cities/towns all intermingle with each other and often you can drive or walk a block in one direction and be in a different city within Westchester. Subsequently, I am not only concerned with how my city of New Rochelle recycles, but Westchester as a whole.


New Rochelle may sound familiar to you, even if you are not familiar with the NY area, because we recently became infamous for the first superspreader event at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yes, that’s us! 

As of 2019, the city’s population was just over 79,000, making us one of the largest populations in the state of New York. New Rochelle does a pretty good job of explaining it’s recycling rules, the pickup schedule and answering questions about oddities and what to do with them. However, I wondered how effective my town’s system really is. I would see recycling bins at malls and around the city and I wondered just how effective those bins were and what happened to the recycling after those bins. Upon some research, I found that there are laws and regulations in place to ensure that New Rochelle is effectively recycling. 

These laws and regulations stated that by city members cooperating to recycle, it would help aid the conservation and recovery of our resources. It was also stated that the city of New Rochelle would return reusable materials to the economic mainstream in the form of raw materials or products, rather than be disposed of at any disposal facility, like an incinerator. It was emphasized that this process not only promotes the general public interest, but it is also mandated by law. 

According to my city’s website, Over 36,000 tons of garbage are collected each year and over 20,000 tons of material is recycled each year. 

pile of paper garbages

According to the  city of New Rochelle, our recycling must follow these guidelines:

  • All recycle material must be separated by category (tin, bottles, aluminum cans only, cardboard, and paper) and placed in the appropriate collection container by the curbside.
  • Place untied paper in bin (no larger than 33 gallons) or boxes.
  • Recycle material must be loose and not in plastic bags.
  • No toxic paint, tar cans, or hazardous waste is permitted.
  • No oil or grease is permitted.
  • No gas cylinders are permitted.
  • No roofing materials are allowed.
  • No construction and demolition debris is allowed.

This is the complete list of recyclable and non-recyclable items. What I found interesting is that I could easily find information on what is collected when, what is grouped together, what outside resources to use if the town does accept certain items, but I could not find information on where the things we recycle go beyond collection. 

Further Research

Upon speaking with William A. Bonacci, the Sanitation Bureau Manager, I was informed that New Rochelle’s garbage collection, after pickup, goes to The Charles Point Resource Recovery Facility in Peekskill, NY.  “Our solid waste is incinerated and converted into electricity by a company called Wheelabrator.” 

New Rochelle is Efficient?

I was very happy to hear that my city takes the extra measures to ensure that our waste is converted into electricity. Even being a resident of New Rochelle for the past 7 years, I was not aware that my city made this effort. As for recycling, Bonacci informed me that our metal and appliances go to a location called Pascap in the Bronx. Pascap has been a scrap recycler company since 1929 and that they will recycle materials that can be hard to find a facility to take in, which is awesome! New Rochelle uses a company called EWaste for recycling electronics. EWaste ensures that they do everything in compliance with local and government regulations, which is very reassuring. 

assorted box lot on brown wooden pallets

Could Use Some Improvement

As of 2018, New Rochelle maintained a 61% recycling efficiency rating, which according to Bonacci, is a great rating compared to the county. Bonacci stated that ‘last year (2019) NR recycled 3,711 tons of paper and 2,273 tons of commingled (plastic, bottles, cans).’ From this research and information, I feel confident that my town and state are making a valid effort to effectively recycle. I believe that there is definitely room for improvement, more so with the recycling efforts at larger establishments rather than private homes. It is hard to say which states are doing better than others with recycling, but Waste Dive  has a great resource for comparing and contrasting.

As of 2020, the US was listed at #7 for countries with the highest recycling. That being said, that rating doesn’t entirely eliminate the 139.6 million tons of waste the US produces every year. Whether you live in New York or were just interested in how New York recycles, I hope this gives you a better understanding of the impact every single person can make by making educated decisions with their environmental impact.