New York - GreeNYC

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Challenges

The New York Mayor's Office recognised that the decisions New York’s 8+ million residents make about how they consume and discard goods, move around the city, use energy and water, have a tremendous impact on citywide carbon emissions and environmental quality. In some cases the city can mandate residents to change behaviour but many of the most significant behaviours New Yorkers can adopt to improve the environment of the city are voluntary. Through residents’ participation, GreeNYC can achieve gains that complement strategies in the policy, infrastructure and law enforcement realms. Multiple surveys have shown New Yorkers see themselves and local government as the entities most responsible for improving the city's environment. GreeNYC exists at this intersection and deploys an accessible and fun brand coupled with compelling data-driven messaging to engage residents. 

Actions

“One NYC: The Plan for a Strong and Just City,” is New York’s comprehensive plan for a sustainable and resilient city for all New Yorkers that addresses social, economic, and environmental challenges. The plan sets measurable goals for tackling these challenges in the coming years – including reducing the city’s GHG by 80% by 2050, sending zero waste to landfills and reducing waste disposal by 90% by 2030 and ensuring New York has the best air quality among all large US cities by 2030. GreeNYC is an important tool for achieving these ambitious goals and GreeNYC campaigns to reduce solid waste, reduce residential energy consumption, and increase consumption of and access to our city's top quality drinking water are outlined in One NYC.

GreeNYC research has identified energy efficiency, air quality, water and solid waste as the areas where the voluntary behaviors of our 8+ million residents have the potential to have the highest impact in achieving the city's sustainability goals. Specifically, the research has shown that a small number of targeted public education campaigns can reduce solid waste by 300,000 tonnes/annually and reduce citywide CO2 emissions by 4M metric tonnes.

To achieve some of these goals GreeNYC currently has two active campaigns to reduce waste: 

  • Bring Your Own promotes reusable water bottles, coffee mugs and plastic bags over their disposable counterparts and reduce waste associated with the 10 billion single-use bags, 315,000 tons of paper for recycling, and about 800 million bottles of water collected annually.
  • Stop Junk Mail tool helps New Yorkers opt out of the estimated 2 billion pieces of unwanted catalogues and other mail that reach their home mailboxes annually. It has achieved about 3.5 million pound reduction in solid waste.

The two actions are projected to result in a 140,000 reduction in tons of CO2.

Projected Outcomes

The co-benefits of New Yorkers adopting the behaviours of GreeNYC campaigns are manifold. For example, by always carrying reusable water bottles and filling them with tap water, New Yorkers will save money by not purchasing bottled water. Another economic benefit of the B.Y.O. campaign arises from the growing number of retailers offering discounts to customers using their own shopping bags and coffee tumblers. As more and more New Yorkers commit to 'B.Y.O' water bottles, mugs and shopping bags, there will also be financial benefits to the city from lowering the amount of waste the sanitation department pays to haul to landfills. GreeNYC also has many campaigns dedicated to promoting energy efficiency at home. Finally, GreeNYC data also shows social benefits through increased sense of personal responsibility and civic engagement from New York residents.

Building off of the success of the B.Y.O. campaign, GreeNYC will lead a multi-year effort to reduce trash from reaching the waterways in partnership with the New York City Department of Sanitation, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Moreover, GreeNYC is increasing its capacity for public-private partnerships and plans to increase public education campaigns from 1-2 a year to 3 large multi-faceted campaigns per year.