"We Make Trash an Asset" MTA New York City Transit Goes Green

Earth Day 2010

What do 45 year-old subway cars and day-old newspapers have in common at MTA New York City Transit? When they reach the end of their respective lives, they're not just tossed aside, they both take on new roles that help benefit the environment.

NYC Transit makes certain that virtually nothing goes to waste—even, well, waste. That message is being posted throughout the subway system just in time for Earth Day to inform customers how the MTA is going green

Going green at NYC Transit is an exercise in numbers, and fairly impressive numbers at that. Old newspapers are among the more than 7,100 tons of recyclable refuse collected from the system's 468 subway stations. That figure represents about 50% of the refuse collected last year.

"We strive to be a green agency in everything we do from the design of new facilities to the operation of our vehicles. We recycle an impressive amount of refuse in a significant sustainability effort that reaches across all of our departments," said NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast. "We are continuing to work hard, broadening our greening efforts and exploring new ways to help protect the environment."

More than 83,255 tons of metal, glass, plastic and paper is collected from train yards, bus depots and other NYC Transit facilities each year and recycled. And how is this for an impressive figure? In 2009, 76 percent of NYC Transit's refuse was recycled.

In 2007 NYC Transit disposed of about 91,952 tons of refuse, including customer generated refuse and unwanted materials resulting from operations, and the agency recycled about 58,350 tons for an overall diversion from landfills to recycling (or other use) rate of 63%.

Over the past decade 2,468 retired subway cars have been stripped, cleaned and transformed into healthy habitats for marine life and placed off the coasts of five states along the Atlantic seaboard. Retired buses are stripped of usable parts which are then used to replace the worn out parts of similar model buses remaining in service. This activity alone has generated over $650,000 in revenues, and cost savings in 2009 of $10 million for the Department of Buses and MTA Bus.

The message highlighting the facts and figures of NYC Transit's green initiative will be posted throughout the subway system beginning this week on 1,000 posters titled, "We Make Trash an Asset." And, yes, before you even ask, they were all printed on recycled paper.