Twelve years ago, New York City residents created nearly four pounds of garbage per person per day. It was broken down as follows:

  • 27 percent thin pizza crusts
  • 20 percent tourists
  • 18 percent surliness
  • 14 percent unused Mets tickets
  • 11 percent lox
  • 6 percent rejected New York Post headline ideas
  • 4 percent ticker tape

Today, good news: The figure has declined to less than three pounds a day, about 12 ounces of which is recycled material. That’s an estimated drop from 32 million pounds of garbage a day to 25 million pounds.

Not that the city is all that happy about it. From The New York Times:

While that’s the lowest amount since at least 2000, the cost of collecting and disposing of the garbage has remained relatively constant, ranging from a low of about 70 cents [per person per day] in 2002 to a high of more than 80 cents in 2008. In 2012, the average cost per person daily was about 75 cents. The cost figures are all in 2012 dollars.

Refuse accounts for most of the garbage, but recycling, which is more expensive per pound, makes up nearly half the daily expenditure.

Click to embiggen.
Independent Budget Office
Click to embiggen.

Not only has the amount of garbage dropped, so has its number of components. According to an expert whose name we will make up if pressed, this is what comprises the city’s garbage now:

  • 83 percent artisanal things of various kinds
  • 17 percent rubble from Sandy

Some progress, anyway.