Not At Your Service: A Look at How New York City’s Commercial Waste System is Failing Its Small Businesses

In interviews with more than 500 business owners conducted for this report, one theme became clear: the commercial carting industry needs to change. Despite a major overhaul two decades ago, intended to eradicate the organized crime associated with the industry, standards to ensure that private haulers process waste sustainably, transparently, and at a fair price are greatly lacking.

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Dirty, Wasteful & Unsustainable: The Urgent Need to Reform New York City’s Commercial Waste System

New York City’s sprawling commercial waste system performs significantly worse on recycling and efficiency than previously believed. Under an inefficient and ad-hoc arrangement that developed over the past several decades, hundreds of private hauling companies collect waste from restaurants, stores, offices, and other businesses nightly and truck it to dozens of transfer stations and recycling facilities concentrated in a handful of low-income communities of color. This waste is then transferred to long-haul trucks and hauled to landfills as far away as South Carolina. Previously unpublished studies and new data reveal just how chaotic this system is and make clear that fundamental reform is needed if we are to follow through on the City’s recently adopted commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% by 2050.

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Don’t Waste LA

Resolving our society’s trash problem is one of the major environmental challenges of our time. In Los Angeles County, this crisis has reached urgent proportions. As one of the largest waste markets in the country, Los Angeles County generates 23 million tons of waste and recyclable materials and sends over 10 million tons of waste to landfills each year. Many of the remaining landfills in the county will reach capacity and close in the coming years, and officials project that as early as 2014, we will be making more trash than our landfills can handle. The City of Los Angeles creates a third of the county’s waste that goes to landfills and therefore has a major role to play in addressing this crisis. Recognizing this, the City has set an ambitious and worthy goal of becoming a zero waste city by 2030. However, reaching this goal will be impossible without reforming the dysfunctional and inefficient trash collection and processing system for the City’s businesses and large apartment complexes. Reforming this system is key to reaching not only the City’s recycling goals but also its goal of creating new green jobs in the recycling sector. In the midst of one of the worst economic crises in modern history, the City of Los Angeles’ unemployment rate stands at an alarming 14 percent. By raising standards for the waste industry, the City can create good green jobs to put people back to work, bring families out of poverty and rebuild the local economy. Report provided by LAANE.

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Transforming Trash in Urban America: Full Report

Transforming the way local governments manage trash promises to improve conditions in many cities by turning bad jobs into good jobs, creating new employment, decreasing pollution, and lowering costs. Cities can move toward zero waste and capture a range of worker, community, and environmental benefits by introducing new systems for managing trash. Some cities are adopting a new approach toward recycling that delivers a range of public benefits. Sustainable recycling combines robust recycling programs with high road job quality and economic development policies. This approach contrasts with what exists in many cities, where there are low recycling rates and little attention is paid to the environment, workers, or communities. Together the elements of sustainable recycling create trash management systems that fight climate change, create family-sustaining jobs, and support strong local economies and healthy communities. This vision of clean, thriving cities requires policymakers and leaders to take an aggressive and proactive stance toward tackling trash problems. Report provided by Partnership for Working Families.

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Tweets from the Streets