By Victoria Merlino
Southeast Queens has seen an uptick in the amount of trash trucked through its communities by private waste companies, according to a new report from the Transform Don’t Trash NYC coalition.
More than 90 different commercial waste companies haul trash for the 100,000 businesses around the city, such as restaurants and corporations, to waste transfer stations. This system is separate from the public waste system, run by the Department of Sanitation.
DSNY has updated how it collects trash, utilizing barge-and rail-based transfer stations to export 87 percent of residential garbage out of the city, compared to the 13 percent that DSNY exported out of the city in diesel trucks, according to the report.
Meanwhile, private waste companies increased their use of truck-based transfer stations by 35 percent, with 81 percent of all commercial trash hauled through these stations via truck, the report asserts.
The locations where they stations are, however, such as Southeast Queens, the South Bronx and Northern Brooklyn, have left residents complaining about the strong smell, air pollution and road hazards from the increased number of trucks.
DSNY introduced a plan to combat the issues surrounding the private waste sector last year, including a system that would separate the city into 20 zones where only three to five carriers could operate within each zone. This method, according to the DSNY, would cut down on carriers crisscrossing around the city and problems like air pollution.
DSNY’s Commercial Waste Zone plan allows customers to choose waste carriers that fit their needs and price range, while also giving the city the opportunity to vet carriers, a DSNY spokesperson told the Eagle.
“A non-exclusive system achieves very similar efficiency and emissions improvements compared to a monopoly system, while avoiding the large disruption to the market and customers that would come with having only one carter per zone,” the spokesperson continued.
Councilmember Antonio Reynoso, who represents parts of Queens and Brooklyn, introduced a bill into the City Council that would require commercial waste zones, but would only allow for one waste carrier per zone, to be vetted by the city government.
"I am proud to introduce legislation to reign in New York City’s private carting industry once and for all," Reynoso said in a statement when the bill was announced in May. "My bill will authorize the City to enact a commercial waste zone system to comprehensively address the labor, safety, and environmental violations that have plagued the private carting industry for years. A zoned system will make routes drastically more efficient — this means a reduction in vehicle miles traveled, meaning less greenhouse gas emissions and improved pedestrian safety. Furthermore, in order to operate in one of these zones, companies must comply with stringent labor, safety, and environmental standards.”