It’s unclear when these blue recycling bins arrived but you can now recycle your bottles and cans at the park instead of tossing them in the trash.
Not many public spaces in New York City have recycling available so this is a good thing. The NYC Department of Sanitation through a public space pilot program in 2007 began offering recycling of bottles, cans and newspapers in select locations, and it has been expanded since that time. The initiative at Washington Square appears to be a Parks Department effort.
Union Square and City Hall Park (part of the Sanitation Department’s program) have fancy bins like these shown at left. They also offer green bins which hold newspapers; Washington Square does not offer that presently. I would imagine the bottles and cans are the bigger issue here.
Many of the city park’s recycling initiatives seem to be done in combination with a private entity such as a local BID (Business Improvement District) or Conservancy. It is unclear if an entity is sponsoring this effort at Washington Square (no response on that from Parks Department).
Nonetheless, a large number of bottles and cans are thrown out here, and, without recycling, they would just end up in a landfill, further contributing to New York City’s tremendous amount of trash (NYC residential garbage equals 12,000 tons per day; commercial waste is about the same amount daily) that goes there already.
The best answer, of course, is to not use plastic and reduce and reuse!