NEW YORK (AP) -- The nation's recycling movement has been steadily expanding for three decades -- so much that it has become almost standard practice for people to separate their paper, plastic and glass.
But in the nation's biggest city -- and the one that produces the most garbage -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to temporarily do away with most recycling in an effort to close a nearly $5 billion budget gap.
It's a notable retreat from the recycling movement and one that has been trashed by critics. Despite the opposition and the plan's major political hurdles, Bloomberg stuck with the proposal when he released a new version of his budget last week.
Bloomberg would suspend the recycling of glass, metal and plastic for 18 months at an estimated savings of $56.6 million. The city collects more than 320,000 tons of recyclable glass, metal and plastic annually, but Bloomberg said it does the job inefficiently.
"The recycling program is not, with the exception of paper, saving the ecology of the world very much. And it is very expensive," said Bloomberg, who unveiled the proposal in his initial budget in February.
Environmental groups say they are unaware of any major American city that has scaled back its recycling program.
"To stop recycling would be to turn the clock backward," said Suzanne Shepard of the New York chapter of the Sierra Club. "Recycling and waste reduction are the cornerstones to reducing this city's waste stream."
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