Tuesday marks the second ticker-tape parade in four years in honor of a New York Giants Super Bowl win.
Big Blue gave us a game to remember, and on Tuesday we're going to give them a parade to remember, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in an earlier statement.
Though the term ticker-tape refers to an outdated method of relaying stock tips--and then celebrating with the streamer-like paper waste--the phrase has stuck to parades where a mass of confetti is thrown from on high.
In this time of digital information, stock tickers are outdated and confetti must be manufactured straight up. However, in an era of increased pressure to abide by strict environmental standards, the impact of New York City's third (not forgetting the 2009 Yankees) large-scale sports parade in four years looms as an ever-larger environmental quandary.
When quarterback Eli Manning and the rest of the winning Giants football team makes way up Lower Manhattan's Canyon of Heroes, at least two tons of manufactured confetti will drop from the sky, according to Ed Bartek, the owner of New Jersey confetti supplier, Special FX Inc.
Ticker-tape hasn't really been manufactured since 1991, according to The New York Times. Instead what's being thrown from windows and rooftops on Tuesday is two tons of dyed and shredded paper manufactured specifically for this cause.
Though Bartek's company--one of about a dozen like it across the U.S.--is not the official supplier of this parade's confetti, he's been working in the industry for more than 30 years. Michael Ahern Production is coordinating Tuesday's parade. (A representative from the New York-based company declined questions.)
Since the late '80s, this business has gotten bigger and bigger, said Bartek. A 50-pound box of confetti would be in volume about a cubic yard.
That means the amount of market-supplied confetti Bartek estimates will fall in Lower Manhattan Tuesday is somewhere in the range of 80 cubic yards of paper
In addition to the two tons of colored, manufactured confetti prepped for airborne flight, another ton of paper repurposed as confetti will be distributed to buildings throughout the parade route to be thrown from windows, according to Joe Timpone, Senior Vice President of Operations for the Downtown Manhattan Alliance. This adds another 40 cubic yards to the total--120 cubic yards of confetti, perhaps enough to fill the Statue of Liberty, which stands, from ground to torch, at 305 feet. (This figure includes Lady Liberty's foundation.)
Timpone is a 30-year veteran of New York City sanitation and now coordinates the clean-up efforts before and after parades like this one.
As for the clean-up itself, Timpone says it takes the team of 120 sanitation workers employed under the auspices of the Downtown Alliance at least three weeks to make a noticeable dent in the ticker-tape cleanup. This is because a lot of the paper gets stuck on balconies and outcroppings of buildings and ledges. A lot of the paper doesn't make its way to the ground until after the first big wind or rain.
I remember looking out the window and thinking I saw a flurry, but it was just paper, said Timpone, recalling the parade in 2009 celebrating the Yankees' World Series win.
Though wind is the main catalyst of movement, Timpone noted that none of the paper could make it to either of the rivers that border downtown Manhattan.
To assess the real impact of three tons of rogue paper, attempts to contact a number of environmental officials were made. They either declined comment or redirected inquiries to others.
John Martin at Region 2 of the Environmental Protection Agency referred the question to Vito Turso at the Department of Sanitation, who passed it on to the Mayor's press office, who referred it back to Turso himself. The Mayor's press office eventually referred the question to another sanitation official at City Hall, but he did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
However, a Web site was found with information--perhaps outdated--that provides a formula for calculating how many trees are needed to produce paper, by the tonnage. Conservatree.org states:
Claudia Thompson, in her book Recycled Papers: The Essential Guide (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992), reports on an estimate calculated by Tom Soder, then a graduate student in the Pulp and Paper Technology Program at the University of Maine. He calculated that, based on a mixture of softwoods and hardwoods 40 feet tall and 6-8 inches in diameter, it would take a rough average of 24 trees to produce a ton of printing and writing paper, using the kraft chemical (freesheet) pulping process.
If we assume that the groundwood process is about twice as efficient in using trees, then we can estimate that it takes about 12 trees to make a ton of groundwood and newsprint. (The number will vary somewhat because there often is more fiber in newsprint than in office paper, and there are several different ways of making this type of paper.)
This is not to imply that the trees used in paper-making are taken from New York City; however, it could be correlated that every time Bloomberg decides to give them a parade to remember he's about 75 trees farther away from his Million Trees goal.