Sims Municipal Recycling

December 11, 2017

The Urban Lens: The surprising beauty of Sunset Park’s Sims Municipal Recycling Facility

6sqft’s series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, we take a look at the inner workings of Sunset Park's Sims Municipal Recycling Facility, from trash heaps to machinery to a learning center. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected]. The beauty of trash is not often lauded, but out on the Brooklyn waterfront, at Sunset Park's Sims Municipal Recycling Facility, the process is oddly mesmerizing. En masse, the glass and plastic shards processed in the building's bowels become a disposable rainbow, the sharp shapes of residential recyclables a testament to the mesmerizing aesthetic of large-scale sustainability. Sims is located on the 11-acre 30th Street Pier, which also contains the city's first commercial-scale wind turbine. On Sims' second story is a recycling education center; surrounding its exterior are a number of nature-harboring reefs, moorings, and native plants; and on the roof is an observation deck. The plant sorts 800 tons of recyclables on 2.5 miles worth of conveyor belts and machines daily, the majority of NYC's "commingled curbside material," its site proudly purports. In total, the plant processes 200,000 tons of plastic, glass, and metal a year. Ahead, take a look at the Sims world, where trash is heaped so high it really does look like treasure if you squint.
Take a tour
July 12, 2016

Is the Mayor’s Plan To Stop Dumping Garbage by 2030 Possible–or Just Trash Talk?

New Yorkers make a lot of garbage. We create more than 44 million pounds of residential and commercial waste every day–about a ton per person annually. Of that, only a third is recycled, composted or burned to generate energy. The rest is dumped in landfills. A recent Crain's article explains how Mayor Bill de Blasio hopes to make a serious dent in all that dumping. He has pledged that by 2030, the city would be sending “zero waste” to landfills: “This is the way of the future if we’re going to save our Earth.” But like most things, the success of any plans to reduce the rubbish pile hinges on two things: management, and incentive (which, for most New Yorkers, means money).
What's the plan to get to zero waste
October 27, 2015

Look Inside NYC’s Strangely Beautiful Glass and Plastic Recycling Facility

Each day, the 11-acre Sims Municipal Recycling facility unloads up to 450 tons of waste on a city-owned pier (on what used to be an NYPD impoundment lot) in the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. Though this seems like a dirty job, the process of recycling all this glass and plastic turns out to be strangely beautiful. CityLab recently explored the facility's photogenic quality through Instagram photos and talked to its manager to learn that recycling in NYC is not an urban myth like some people believe. In fact, since 2013, around 7,000 guests have toured the Sims facility.
Get a look at what they saw