September 25, 2014
The Citizens Budget Commission (CBC) has issued a new study recommending ways to make solid waste collection more efficient in New York City, but the National Waste & Recycling Association (NW&RA) said it strongly disagrees with its call for commercial waste collection franchising.
The New York City-based civic organization made seven recommendations that would save about $300 million annually long term, according to its news release.
The study, “Getting the Fiscal Waste Out of Solid Waste Collection in New York City,” recommended that in the short term, the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) should promote flexibility in collection frequency to meet neighborhood needs; expand the use of large containers and automated trucks; and eliminate some inefficient productivity bonuses. Those three moves would save $96 million annually, the CBC said.
The CBC identified four reforms it suggests should be phased in during a multiyear period: Implement financial incentives to reduce waste generation; introduce competition to promote efficient public waste collection; diversify capacity for snow removal; and create franchises for more efficient commercial waste collection.
The CBC said a franchise system for commercial waste would limit the number of carters allowed to operate in a certain area, thereby reducing truck congestion and improving operation efficiency. That would save $26 million annually, the group said.
The Washington-based NW&RA said in its news release that it does not believe there would be any cost savings with commercial franchising, and the report admits that “the high number of private-sector waste carters in the city has kept prices relatively low.”
“Contrary to the CBC’s suggestion, assigning commercial franchises to a small number of carters in each district will not lead to a reduction in collection costs. Just the opposite will occur,” said Thomas Toscano, chairman of NW&RA’s New York City chapter and the chief financial officer of Mr. T Carting, a carter that serves the New York metro area. “If waste removal is franchised, New York City’s businesses, especially small businesses struggling to survive, will bear the burden because they will pay higher collection costs. This is borne out by the waste industry’s experience around the country.”
He said many local carters would be forced to close as a result of franchising.
NW&RA said it supports other recommendations in the CBC report that would make waste collection in New York City more cost-efficient. “We want to work with the DSNY and others to reduce waste collection costs for waste generators in New York City,” the association said.
“New York City’s system of garbage collection should be much more efficient,” said CBC President Carol Kellermann. “It’s time to eliminate waste—not just collect it.”
The study is the third in a series of CBC reports focused on improving municipal solid waste management.