NEW YORK, NY – The Transform Don’t Trash NYC coalition praised Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to reform New York City’s commercial sanitation industry, which was announced today. The proposal will reduce truck traffic and diesel emissions, raise recycling rates, address environmental injustice, and protect private sanitation workers. The coalition looks forward to partnering with the administration to move these reforms forward.
The administration’s new policy would create commercial waste zones throughout the city, each serviced by a private sanitation company that would be held to strict sustainability goals and labor standards. The announcement follows more than a year of study of problems in the commercial sanitation industry by the de Blasio administration. Reforms in this industry are key to accomplishing the city’s goal of zero waste by 2030.
New York City’s commercial sanitation industry is plagued by environmental problems and impacts on workers and local communities. Recycling rates in this industry fall well below the national average while haphazard routes mean that as many as twenty different sanitation companies collect trash on a single city block. Workers in the industry suffer from low-wages in a job that is the nation’s fifth most dangerous.
New York joins other major cities, such as San Francisco and Seattle, that have used commercial waste zones to successfully raise recycling rates, improve the efficiency of routing, and protect workers. Los Angeles plans to implement a commercial waste zone policy in 2017.
Brigid Flaherty, Organizing Director, ALIGN:
“The debate is over. ALIGN cheers the Mayor’s decision today to implement commercial waste zones in New York City. The data confirms what workers and communities have been saying for years: the current system burdens our neighborhoods with too much truck traffic and pollution, without delivering the recycling or good jobs we need. We look forward to being involved in the implementation process and will continue to organize in support of transforming this industry.”
Eric A. Goldstein, New York City Environment Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“Bravo to the de Blasio Administration and Commissioner Garcia for completing a study that demonstrates the multiple benefits of reforming the current commercial waste collection system. Establishing zones for the collection of commercial waste would bring order to an irrational waste network and thereby cut diesel truck pollution, curb global warming emissions and clear the streets of unnecessary truck traffic in neighborhoods across the city. Even we were surprised by the size of the anticipated traffic and pollution reductions that are anticipated by a move to a more rational zone system. And, if implemented successfully, this could end up being one of the most significant reforms to city waste policy in years.”
Eddie Bautista, Executive Director, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance:
“The NYC Environmental Justice Alliance applauds Mayor de Blasio, the Department of Sanitation and the Business Integrity Commission for tackling New York City’s largest unresolved solid waste challenge: our commercial waste system. For nearly three decades, low income communities of color have sought relief from an inefficient ‘free market’ commercial waste system that consigned the vast majority of the city’s commercial waste handling to a handful of communities of color. By pursuing commercial waste zones, the City of New York stands to drastically reduce truck traffic, greenhouse gasses and other co-pollutants, while driving up commercial recycling rates – thereby helping us meet Mayor de Blasio’s twin goals of reducing New York City’s carbon footprint and reaching for Zero Waste solutions. We again applaud the Mayor’s commitment to addressing the City’s sustainability goals in a more environmentally just manner. We welcome the opportunity to work with the Administration on helping design a commercial waste zoning system that works for all New Yorkers – particularly low income communities of color still reeling from a disparate solid waste system and the concentration of waste transfer stations.”
Justin Wood, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest:
“This unprecedented report confirms what ordinary New Yorkers have known for decades – that the commercial waste system is terribly inefficient, and that small business customers, workers, and communities are not treated equitably by the private waste industry. Most business owners are eager to cost-effectively recycle more and see less garbage on the streets, but the current ad-hoc waste system offers them very little in the way of incentives, education, and accountability on recycling and waste reduction. Lacking market leverage, small businesses also pay 38% more for garbage services than larger customers. A competitive waste zone system will ensure that all customers are treated equitably, will reward businesses for diverting waste from landfills, and will ensure that waste haulers provide the education and customer service necessary to boost our citywide recycling rate.”
George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16, whose affiliate locals represent public and private sanitation workers in New York City:
“Mayor de Blasio’s plan will transform commercial sanitation to protect New York City residents, workers, and businesses. The administration collected the data and these facts don’t lie. Today’s private sanitation industry is grossly inefficient, impacting our roads, air quality, and safety. This is the plan we need to create a private sanitation industry that New York can be proud of.”
Sean Campbell, President of Teamsters Local 813, which represents private sanitation workers in New York City:
“We have been working in the shadows for too long, but Mayor de Blasio is shining the light on this industry. What was once a good, union job is now too often a dangerous, low-wage job. The reforms that Mayor de Blasio announced today are giving renewed hope to the working families of the New York commercial sanitation industry that they can have the American Dream too.”
Council Member Antonio Reynoso, Chair of the Council Committee on Sanitation:
“I want to thank the Administration, particularly the Department of Sanitation, for taking on this complicated issue. Since I’ve been overseeing the private carting industry as Chair of the Council’s Committee on Sanitation, I’ve referred to it as the ‘wild, wild west’ because it is inefficient and unregulated. A collection zone system will give us the opportunity to promote sustainability, improve worker safety, get dangerous trucks off the streets, and in general improve what is now a very problematic industry. I look forward to working with DSNY, businesses, industry representatives, and advocates to create an implementation plan that will transform our current system into a sustainable model for the future.”
Deborah Axt Co-Executive Director, Make the Road New York:
“We commend the Mayor for initiating much needed improvements in the private sanitation industry. Community members, small business and workers will benefit from increased transparency and stricter sustainability goals. Improving labor standards in the industry is of particular importance. The majority of private sanitation workers are immigrants and people of color, far too of whom are scraping by on poverty wages and laboring in dangerous, unsanitary conditions. We look forward to a private sanitation industry that better serves the needs of all New Yorkers.”
Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives:
“Establishing commercial waste collection zones is an important step in New York City’s initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Our neighborhoods already have far too much dangerous truck traffic, and the way commercial haulers currently pick up waste makes the problem much worse. We thank Mayor de Blasio for showing Vision Zero leadership by making this recommendation as part of a larger effort to make waste hauling companies’ operating practices safer.”
Bill Lipton, New York State Director, Working Families Party:
“We applaud the Mayor, Department of Sanitation and Business Integrity Commission on taking this step to create a better commercial waste industry and a healthier city. Establishing commercial waste zones should reduce truck traffic, improve our air quality, and help us meet our climate goals. This is a step forward for New York that will improve our communities health and standards for workers in the industry – turning the current chaos into a system that works for all New York’s working families.”
Nikki Fortunato Bas, Executive Director of the Partnership for Working Families:
“The debate on how to pick up and manage urban trash and recycling is over. The two biggest cities in our nation agree; the exclusive zone system is best for our communities. Working people and communities have been heard. Implementing this system will mean better wages and safer jobs for those who collect our waste, healthier air for our residents and less traffic for our neighborhoods. The momentum to fix our broken waste management system is spreading across the country and our most innovative cities are leading that charge.”
Les Judd, co-chair of the Environmental Justice Committee at B’nai Jeshrun:
“B’nai Jeshurun, an Upper West Side synagogue and member of the Transform Don’t Trash NYC coalition, supports Mayor de Blasio’s proposal for commercial waste zones in New York City. The Mayor’s proposal will dramatically improve environmental, health, labor and recycling standards for the commercial waste industry and will benefit all New Yorkers.”