Steve Changaris — a lobbyist for private waste haulers — claims that New York City’s small-business owners are happy with the many private garbage-hauling companies that offer a “choice” of whom we hire to truck our waste away (“Throw out this garbage plan,” Op-Ed, CrainsNewYork.com).
As one of these entrepreneurs—I run a Brooklyn restaurant that prides itself on using organic and sustainable products—I can tell you that my fellow business owners and I have far fewer choices than we want. We generate a lot of waste—everything from kitchen scraps to cardboard boxes and plastic packaging. We know that most of this waste could, and should, be recycled. Yet almost none of it is. And it’s incredibly difficult to find a private hauling company committed to recycling and that will transparently and honestly show us what happens to our garbage.
Mr. Changaris also says the “choice” we have in the current system rewards us with low prices. Yet many of us find that our garbage bills don’t make sense. I pay the same monthly bill to my hauling company no matter how much garbage I throw out and no matter how much is separated for recycling. This makes it difficult to determine whether I’m paying a fair rate and takes away an important incentive for businesses to reduce waste and recycle more.
My restaurant has been able to start composting its food waste through the dedicated work of a small, nonprofit facility in our community. But this is not a practical solution for a city the size of New York.
The city’s waste-hauling industry needs systematic reform to operate in a way that is more transparent, responsive to the needs of small and independent entrepreneurs, and safer and cleaner for the communities in which we live and do business.
Co-owner Lighthouse Restaurant in South Williamsburg