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Articles from 2019 In May


Need to Know

PepsiCo Aims to Change Recycling Behaviors—Starting in the Classroom

PepsiCo Recycling Twitter PepsiCo Recycle

PepsiCo Recycling announced that through the Recycle Rally—a free program designed to educate and instill recycling behaviors at K-12 schools across the United States—nearly 10 million pounds of waste material was diverted from landfills during the 2018-19 academic year. Since launching in 2010, Recycle Rally has facilitated collections of nearly 500 million recyclable containers.

Participating schools in the Recycle Rally compete in an annual recycling contest, and the schools that collect the most recyclables win funding for sustainability initiatives or other important projects. This year, Arnold Elementary in San Antonio, Texas, and O'Connell College Preparatory School in Galveston, Texas, ramped up their recycling collections to emerge as the top performing schools in two competitive leagues.

"We're thrilled to be one of this year's Recycle Rally winners, but the most exciting thing about Recycle Rally is how it enables sustainable change for the long term," said Paul Perea, teacher and Recycle Rally leader at Arnold Elementary, in a statement. "We plan to invest the $50,000 we won through the program in new green initiatives, and we are currently looking into an aquaponics system to create fertilizer out of fish waste and a van to support beach cleanups in the community."

"The success of Recycle Rally shows that if we can create an environment where children feel empowered to recycle—and educated to recycle properly—they will go the extra mile to ensure their empty cans or bottles don't end up in a landfill," said Tom Mooradian, manager of environmental Ssustainability at PepsiCo, in a statement. "It's about normalizing recycling behaviors at the earliest possible age, so they become second nature. Our goal is that these children will change the status quo and help make our vision of a circular economy a reality."

Recycle Rally is now active in more than 6,000 K-12 schools, providing the funding and resources crucial to addressing the gap in recycling education in the U.S.

Currently, 62 percent of Americans worry that a lack of knowledge is causing them to recycle incorrectly, and 25 percent of all recycling is contaminated often due to consumer misunderstanding about how to sort recyclables.

Solar Industry Releases New Diversity and Inclusion Reports

The Solar Foundation Twitter the-solar-foundation.PNG

Solar companies are doing a better job of tracking employee demographics and generally provide positive work environments for their employees, but senior leadership in the industry lacks diversity and gaps remain in wages and job satisfaction. That’s according to a comprehensive study released by The Solar Foundation, in partnership with the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

The two groups also released a diversity and inclusion best practices guide to help companies and organizations within and beyond the solar industry build diversity and inclusion programs.

The reports were released during an event at the National Press Club introducing SEIA’s #DiversityChallenge. The challenge, issued in coordination with many of Washington’s energy trade associations, asks organizations to be active on social media by sharing their efforts to improve diversity and inclusion, sign on to the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge and mount a sustained effort to address diversity and inclusion at their company and in their industries.

“I felt it was important to make this a public issue—to challenge others to stand up and account for the work they are doing,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA president and CEO, in a statement. “As leaders, we have a responsibility to create cultural change and address the systemic forces that have allowed discrimination to fester. We need to take account of our own actions and ask ourselves, are we doing enough? It’s imperative that we take proactive steps to advance these issues because it isn’t going to happen on its own.”

The new publications update and expand on earlier reports to show where the solar industry stands on diversity and inclusion and to offer ideas for improvement.

The “U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study 2019” provides in-depth data on wages and career development for women and people of color in the solar industry. It is a followup to an initial report released by The Solar Foundation in 2017.

“There are many exciting job opportunities in America’s growing solar industry, and these jobs should be accessible to all,” said Andrea Luecke, president and executive director at The Solar Foundation, in a statement. “Given the importance of the solar industry in building the energy infrastructure that is needed to confront the challenge of climate change, the solar industry has a tremendous opportunity to serve as a diversity and inclusion workforce model for the wider economy.”

The study, based on a statistical survey of solar employers and another survey of employees, found the industry still has more work ahead to meet its commitments to diversity and inclusion in the workforce. Some of the key findings include:

  • Among all senior executives reported by solar firms, 88 percent are white and 80 percent are men.
  • Women in solar make 74 cents on the dollar compared to men. The median wage reported for men was $29.19, while for women it was $21.62. Moreover, 52 percent of men feel they have successfully moved up the career ladder, compared to only 37 percent of women.
  • Solar companies tend to rely on personal or professional networks in hiring, but this may limit their ability to recruit diverse candidates. Only 28 percent of Hispanic or Latino employees found their jobs through a referral or by word of mouth, compared to 49 percent of non-Hispanic employees. Only 28 percent of black or African American employees found their job in this way, compared to 44 percent of white employees.
  • Just 36 percent of solar companies formally track employee demographics and diversity. However, this is an increase from the 2017 study, when only 27 percent of companies did so.
  • The majority of solar employees surveyed reported a positive working environment; 73 percent of respondents agreed their firm cultivates a culture of respect, equity and positive recognition of differences.

The solar industry has more work to do to reflect the diversity of the overall population, a challenge that is shared with the wider energy industry. The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2018 found that women make up 26 percent of the solar workforce, black or African American workers comprise 8 percent, Hispanic or Latino workers represent 17 percent and Asian workers comprise 9 percent.

“Diversity and inclusion are essential to making the solar industry as accessible as possible,” said Scott Wiater, president and CEO of Standard Solar, in a statement. “While the industry is working hard toward expanding into all communities, studies like this highlight where the gaps are so we can do a better job on filling them. Over time, we hope that our industry workforce will be as diverse as our world, and studies like this will help us get there.”

The “Diversity Best Practices Guide for the Solar Industry” offers suggestions for building and sustaining a diverse and inclusive culture, provides case studies on actions currently undertaken by leading solar organizations and points out areas where organizations can examine their work practices and look for areas of improvement.

The guide is organized into five key focus areas and provides best practices and tactics for a variety of workforce-related topics, including outreach and recruitment, interviewing and hiring, retention, upward mobility and cultural inclusivity. The guide was developed in partnership with SEIA members and external experts in the human resources and diversity and inclusion field.

Need to Know

Microgrants Available for NYC Businesses Looking to Reduce Food Waste

How Reducing Food Loss, Waste Can Generate a Triple Win

The Foundation for New York’s Strongest—the official nonprofit partner of the City of New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY)—announced its second Microgrant Program to help small businesses reduce food waste. Selected businesses can receive an award of up to $2,000, plus technical support from the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute, to develop and implement innovative food waste solutions.

The announcement was made at the foundation’s Food Waste Fair, which featured more than 1,000 attendees, 75 exhibitors, 30 expert speakers and nine hands-on workshops all focused on helping food-related businesses prevent, recycle and recover the more than 650,000 tons of food waste that New York City businesses throw away each year.

“The Microgrant Program harnesses the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of NYC small businesses and empowers them to be thought leaders in tackling one of our city’s largest environmental challenges," said Julie Raskin, executive director of the Foundation for New York’s Strongest, in a statement. “This is a great example of how business and government can work together to make New York City a healthier, cleaner and greener place to live and work.”

New York City businesses throw away more than 650,000 tons of food waste annually, which decomposes in landfills and produces more than 3.3 billion tons of methane every year. The Microgrant Program aims to help businesses develop creative solutions to prevent, recycle or recover food, which can serve as best practices for the larger NYC business community.

“I’m pleased to see the Foundation for New York’s Strongest continuing to help small businesses make the investment in reducing food waste with the Microgrant Program,” said Steven Costas, acting commissioner for DSNY, in a statement. Reducing food waste is not only good for the environment, but it makes good financial sense, too. I’m looking forward to seeing what NYC small businesses can do with the microgrants.”

This is the second time the foundation will provide microgrants to city businesses. Winners from the 2018 Microgrant Program included sustainable catering company Ox Verte, which developed a storage system and donation program to give excess food to New Yorkers in need, and yogurt brand White Moustache, which created a mobile vending unit to sell ice pops made from leftover whey, a byproduct of the yogurt.

“White Moustache is a handmade yogurt company that also makes products out of whey from the yogurt-making process—an example of how businesses can not only reduce food waste but make such efforts profitable,” said Homa Dashtaki, founder of White Moustache, in a statement. “The Microgrant Program helped our business implement a creative outlet to get our product to market.”

“As a plant-forward catering company, Ox Verte strives to nourish people and communities. Part of that mission includes reducing food waste. The Microgrant Program provides funding toward projects that help NYC businesses, like ours, achieve that goal,” said Jessie Gould, CEO and founder of Ox Verte, LLC, in a statement.

Applications are due July 15. Eligible businesses must be located within the five boroughs, have 25 or fewer employees and net less than $500,000 per year. Winners will be announced at the end of August. 

Need to Know

Two Ontario, Canada, Municipalities Resume Polystyrene Foam Recycling

polystyrene foam

Residents and businesses in the Ontario, Canada, municipalities of Brockton and Hanover now have the opportunity to recycle polystyrene foam thanks to a $9,700 grant from the Foam Recycling Coalition (FRC).

The municipalities began collecting post-consumer polystyrene foam in 2007, but the recycling program was suspended 10 years later due to changing markets for the material. The recycling services will resume with the help of a polystyrene densifier, which compacts collected materials into condensed polystyrene bricks. End markets then recycle the bricks into new products.

“The discontinuation of the agreement to transport materials in 2017 was sudden and unexpected. With this grant from the Foam Recycling Coalition, we found a solution that allows us to begin collecting polystyrene again and bring back this service to our residents,” said Ron Cooper, director of public works for the town of Hanover, in a statement.

Brockton and Hanover’s waste management departments will operate the program via community drop-off depots. Businesses and residents can bring foam cups, take-out containers, egg cartons and meat trays, as well as protective foam packaging often found around shipped electronics. The material then will be sent to a central location for densification and turned into new products as varied as crown molding, picture frames and receipt spools.

The Canadian Plastics Industry Association provided assistance in connecting the municipalities with the Foam Recycling Coalition’s grant program and is helping with the official kickoff event at the Brockton Recycling Centre on May 31.

The municipalities anticipate they will receive material from approximately 17,000 residents. In time, they plan to offer access to foam collection to the neighboring communities, too, which will bring access to a total exceeding 63,000 residents.

“We congratulate both municipalities for their never-give-up focus to once again find a solution for foam recycling. Everyone benefits when these valuable materials are recycled in the communities they serve, instead of going to landfills,” said Lynn Dyer, president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute, which houses the coalition, in a statement.

The grant is made possible through contributions to the FRC, which focuses on increased recycling of post-consumer foam polystyrene. Brockton/Hanover is the 11th grant recipient to receive FRC funding since 2015. According to the coalition, more than 3 million additional residents in the U.S. and Canada can recycle foam as a result of FRC grants.

Need to Know

Kentucky County Seeks Paper Recycling Options

paper recycling

Solid waste officials in Frankfort and Franklin County, Ky., are looking for ways to repurpose paper products after the Lexington, Ky., recycling plant abruptly stopped accepting paper.

Right now, the county has no viable option for paper, but The State Journal reports that this is most likely a short-term change as new paper mills are expected to open later this year, which should open the market for recycled paper.

In the meantime, the Frankfort Division of Solid Waste is looking at other facilities to accept its recycled paper.

The State Journal has more information:

Frankfort and Franklin County solid waste officials say that both local governments are exploring other ways to repurpose paper products.

Earlier this month, the City of Lexington's recycling plant suddenly stopped accepting paper products from its affiliate partners, which include Frankfort and Franklin County. Lexington said that the change went into effect immediately because outlets that buy recycled materials from Lexington were only taking "limited amounts due to an overabundance of material in domestic markets," a press release said at the time.

Franklin County Solid Waste Coordinator Blair Hecker said that current recycle standards will stay the same for at least the next few months. The county currently has no other financially viable option for paper.

Read the full article here.

Need to Know

Proposed Bill Would Bypass North Carolina's E-waste-to-landfill Ban

tv waste

Legislation proposed in North Carolina would allow cities to sidestep a statewide ban on electronic waste, or e-waste, sent to landfills.

Back in 2010, the increasing volume of discarded older, “tube-style TVs” ending up in landfills prompted the state to pass a law prohibiting the disposal of those items and other e-waste. Now, a Regulatory Reform bill, which could allow municipalities to undo this law, has been proposed.

WECT News 6 has more details:

A provision in the proposed Regulatory Reform bill would give cities in North Carolina the ability to bypass the state-wide ban on electronic products in landfills.

These electronics include older “tube TVs," a product becoming widely unused in America and are frequently discarded. CRT television sets contain cathode ray tubes and a wide variety of dangerous toxins, while the main problem with disposing newer flat screen TVs is the lithium contained inside.

In 2010, the rapidly growing volume of these older television sets within North Carolina landfills led to the passing of a law that prohibited the disposal of televisions, computers, monitors, printers, scanners, and other electronics. If the proposed Regulatory Reform bill is passed, local governments could possibly undo this law in their district.

Read the full article here.

Private NYC Hauler Still has License After Alleged Murder Cover-up

indictment

The Transform Don’t Trash NYC coalition is calling on the New York City Council to move quickly to pass the commercial waste zone bill, following a report from the New York Post that a private carting company owner was indicted for covering up a murder five months ago. The report also points out that the company still has its carting license even after the indictment.

According to the Post, William Formica, owner of Staten Island, N.Y.-based Flag Container Service Inc., was indicted for using dumpsters and a waste transfer station to dispose of evidence in the disappearance and murder of Michael Stewart, a Staten Island father. The indictment allegedly follows a long history of worker deaths, safety violations and slow adoption of environmental and street safety programs at Flag Container and at Formica’s construction company.

Formica, 58, was arrested in January and charged with evidence tampering, hindering the prosecution and running a criminal nuisance. He was released on $75,000 bond after pleading not guilty, the Post reports.

The report comes on the heels of new legislation introduced by New York City Council Member Antonio Reynoso to create a citywide commercial waste zoning system. The legislation introduced would authorize the city to create a commercial waste zone system that would divide the city into at least 20 zones with each zone serviced by one carter. This is much different than the plan initially unveiled in 2018 by the City of New York Department of Sanitation, which stated the city would be divided into 20 zones, each served by three to five carters selected through a competitive process.

After the report was released, the Transform Don’t Trash NYC coalition released the following statement:

“Flag Container’s behavior, as alleged in the indictment, exemplifies the lawlessness of the private carting industry. The City Council should move quickly to pass the Commercial Waste Zone bill, introduced by Council Member Antonio Reynoso yesterday, so we can get to work cleaning up this industry.

With a Commercial Waste Zone system, the Department of Sanitation will be able to set and enforce high safety, labor, and environmental standards for private carting companies. Through a competitive bidding process, we can ensure that the only companies operating in New York City are those that meet ‘good character’ standards and that help us reach our climate, Vision Zero, and worker safety goals. We can no longer let dangerous private carters operate for years and wait for the worst to happen before acting. Unfortunately, there are many private carters with safety and environmental records like Flag Container’s.

Further, the Business Integrity Commission should act immediately to get Flag Container off the streets. There is no excuse for this company still having a license months after the owner’s indictment in this horrific crime.”

Waste360 reached out to the New York City Business Integrity Commission (BIC) for a comment but didn’t receive a response. The New York Daily News, however, reports that a BIC spokesperson said the agency is looking into suspending Formica’s garbage hauling company.

Women Leaders in Waste: Tracie Onstad Bills of SCS Engineers

Women Leaders in Waste: What They’re Reading

Tracie Onstad Bills always dreamed of being a teacher, but she never thought she would be educating people on waste reduction and recycling. As the northern California director of sustainable materials management for SCS Engineers, Onstad Bills is tasked with growing SCS’ sustainable materials management (SMM) practice as well as education and outreach efforts, business development, writing proposals, holding client meetings, visiting businesses, attending conferences and managing projects.

Onstad Bills has been in her role at SCS for more than four years, but she has been in the environmental and resource material management field for more than 20 years. She began her career at Recology and became an expert in areas such as commercial recycling technical assistance, environmental purchasing, large venue and event zero waste programs, research and sustainability planning, garbage hauler franchise compliance and review, construction and demolition program/ordinance analysis and writing, climate inventory compilation and research and feasibility studies to help clients with comprehensive waste prevention and zero waste programs.

“I hear stories all the time about people falling into this industry, and that was literally the case for me,” says Onstad Bills. “In the '90s, I received my bachelor’s in environmental science from San Jose State University, and I was seeking an environmental job. But the only jobs that were really available were in environmental engineering, and I’m not an engineer. I ended up answering an ad in a newspaper for a customer service representative job, and that job happened to be at Norcal Waste Services (now Recology).”

In addition to working as a customer service representative, Onstad Bills worked as a recycling coordinator, helping businesses and municipalities adapt to new legislation in California. She also helped write a business plan for a new hauling service within the city of San Jose, building the new service area with clients, managing a customer service department staff of 12 and working with senior management to ensure customer service, reporting, invoicing, phone system, residential and customer services and employees’ success targets were met.

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According to Onstad Bills, one of the most critical components of helping a municipality or business implement a waste prevention or zero waste program is understanding every aspect of the desired system, including their goals, what waste prevention or zero waste means to them, their current waste prevention and waste reduction systems, their current infrastructure, their funding for additional infrastructure, what support they have from their government, what they are purchasing and producing and if they are willing to switch over to a more sustainable product option, etc. Every municipality and business are going to have different plans and goals, but they should all be practical, realistic and, most importantly, achievable, she says.

“At Recology, I learned how important it is to be flexible and adaptable,” states Onstad Bills. “Things are always changing, especially in this industry, so you really need to be adaptable and flexible in any role. Problem solving and being able to think outside the box are equally important, as this industry deals with a number of problems and concerns raised by customers. Lastly, and certainly the biggest and most valuable best practice I learned at Recology, is customer service and making sure the customer feels appreciated. I think Recology does a great job at customer service, and being able to resolve issues calmly and with ease is a win-win for both the customer and the company.”

Onstad Bills brought those best practices with her to SCS Engineers, where she works closely with SCS Engineers Vice President Michelle Leonard on SMM, or what they refer to as “everything but landfill.” Together, they have built up SCS’ business unit, which includes California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada.

When Onstad Bills first started, it was just her and Leonard working on SMM, but now SCS has about eight staff members working on SMM because there is a lot of work to be done in regard to helping municipalities and collection companies.

Tracie-Onstad-Bills-3.JPG

Some of the projects she’s currently working on include: researching markets for wood and box springs for the Mattress Recycling Council; helping the city of Alameda, Calif., implement zero waste systems and encourage top generators to make better purchasing choices and to recycle and compost more; working with ReThink Disposable, a program of Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund, to get more businesses to make better purchasing decisions and to reduce the amount of disposable materials from entering waterways; and conducting waste characterization and contamination studies for various clients.

“My position has so many different elements to it, and I get to work on a number of different projects with different team members, so there is always something new and exciting to work on,” states Onstad Bills. “There are so many fun aspects of my job, but I have to say I really enjoy visiting facilities and doing tours. I try to do as many as I can, not always directly related to this industry, because I learn a lot more about a business or a customer by doing a tour. For example, I visited Japan last year and had the chance to visit a lot of facilities to learn about how other communities are managing their waste and recyclables. Japan is really a whole other world—it’s so clean and people follow the rules—and I wouldn’t even know how to begin to get the U.S. on their level because our culture is a little different.”

“I can’t imagine doing anything but this,” she adds. “In fact, I live in Silicon Valley, and my friends work for high-tech companies. They tell me to come work for them all the time, and to be honest, what I do is so important and it has such an impact on the community that I couldn’t even imagine doing anything else. I love what I do, and I feel very lucky for having the job that I do.”

As we continue this series, we invite our readers to email Waste360 Editorial Director Mallory Szczepanski at [email protected] with suggestions of women to feature in the coming months.

California Senate Passes Single-use Packaging and Plastics Bill

The California State Senate on May 29 passed the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act (SB-54), which aims to set a bar for reducing single-use packaging across the country. The legislation—introduced by Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica)—applies to all single-use packaging sold in California, as well as the top 10 single-use plastic items found during beach cleanups.

Companion legislation (AB-1080)—introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego)—is anticipated for a floor vote on May 30 in the California State Assembly.

After the measure passed the Senate, Oceana lauded California’s legislation.

“Solving the plastics problem in our oceans will take a concerted effort from the companies that are producing and selling these materials,” said Geoff Shester, California campaign director and senior scientist at Oceana, in a statement. “This legislation will create the framework desperately needed to turn the tide on our single-use plastics problem. We applaud these state leaders and urge that these bills remain strong in their commitment to meaningfully and drastically reduce the impacts of single-use products. As the fifth-largest economy in world, California has the opportunity to remain an environmental leader on responsible plastics policy and inspire national and international change.”

“Single-use plastic pollution is plaguing our oceans,” said Oceana Chief Policy Officer Jacqueline Savitz in a statement. “It is highly irresponsible for companies to use a material designed to last forever to make something they know we will use for just minutes or seconds and then discard. The three R’s start with reduce. To the extent that this action drives reductions in corporate plastic use, it will be a major step forward. But make no mistake, we cannot recycle our way out of the plastics crisis. We must reduce the amount of single-use plastic being pumped into commerce by consumer goods companies, and California is an excellent place to start.”

Plastic pollution has grown into a major global crisis for the oceans, with an estimated 17.6 billion pounds of plastic entering the marine environment from land-based sources every year, Oceana points out.

NYC Councilman Introduces Changes to Commercial Waste Zone Bill

Transform Don't Trash NYC Twitter nyc-commercial-waste-zone-meeting-may-2019.PNG

New York City Council Member Antonio Reynoso introduced his version of a bill to create a citywide commercial waste zoning system on May 29 at City Hall.

The legislation introduced would authorize the city to create a commercial waste zone system that would divide the city into at least 20 zones with each zone serviced by one carter. This is much different than the plan initially unveiled in 2018 by the City of New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY), which stated the city would be divided into 20 zones, each served by three to five carters selected through a competitive process.

The approach has been said to reduce truck traffic associated with commercial waste collection by more than 60 percent, or more than 18 million miles per year, while strengthening service standards and allowing for customer choice. Now, however, it appears the system will be more exclusive.

Under Reynoso’s bill, commercial carting companies would engage in a competitive bidding process, through a request for proposal (RFP) process conducted by DSNY for the right to operate within these zones. The RFP process would require bidding companies to comply with certain baseline standards. According to the measure, a number of other criteria would be weighted competitively, requiring companies to demonstrate how they can best meet the needs of a given zone, while raising environmental, labor and safety standards.

"I am proud to introduce legislation to reign in New York City’s private carting industry once and for all," said Reynoso in a statement. "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. A commercial waste zone system is a catch-all solution that will finally transform this industry for the sake of workers, communities and the environment. I have fought tirelessly alongside my allies in transforming the waste industry, and I urge my colleagues to push for swift passage of this legislation."

During the press conference, Reynoso stressed the issue of safety, bringing up Sanitation Salvage's two fatal crashes that resulted in the deaths of Mouctar Diallo and Leon Clarke and the company's shutdown.

“The Sanitation Salvages of the world [are] doing everything the wrong way,” said Reynoso in a Gothamist article. “There’s no way that a company like Sanitation Salvage wins an RFP in this process.”

During the introduction of his bill, Reynoso was joined by fellow Council members, Teamsters Local 813 and environmental justice, small business and safe streets advocates.

“The creation of commercial waste zones will result in tremendous benefits for the city. The zones will reduce the number of truck miles traveled each night by private carters by over 50 percent and achieve reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of over 40 percent,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson in a statement. “It will also require public safety training to workers that will result in safer streets and improve agency oversight over carter operations. I want to thank Council Member Reynoso for his leadership in this issue and hope this will be the beginning of a new and safer era for the industry.” 

Waste360 reached out to DSNY for a comment regarding the introduction of Reynoso’s bill and received the following statement:

“Commercial waste zones will create a safe and efficient collection system that offers customers high-quality and low-cost service and furthers the city’s zero waste goals. DSNY’s plan was developed through a robust and extensive stakeholder engagement process—many meetings with many interested parties, including business groups, labor organizations, environmental justice advocates, private carters, industry associations and elected officials.

The city supports a non-exclusive system with up to three to five carters authorized to service each zone. This approach allows each customer to choose a carter that best meets its specific service and pricing needs, while assuring that all carters operate efficiently and are vetted by the city’s rigorous selection process. A non-exclusive system achieves very similar efficiency and emissions improvements compared to an exclusive system, while avoiding the large disruption to the market and customers that would come with having only one carter per zone.

Our plan provides opportunities for a variety of private carters that are able to meet our high contract standards. Plus, it does not leave the city vulnerable to a single large carting company that may fail in meeting its obligations or leave the market. Most importantly, customers overwhelmingly prefer a non-exclusive model, as they want the ability to shop around and fire their carter if their service needs are not met.”

New Yorkers for Responsible Waste Management (NYRWM) also released a statement saying NYRWM “continues to support meaningful reforms to the city’s commercial waste and recycling system that maintain the many benefits of the open market system and the city’s many multigenerational businesses that provide them.”

However, the statement went on to say:

“Proposals to create a zone system—either total monopoly, as proposed by Councilmember Reynoso and the Teamsters, or near-monopoly, as proposed by DSNY—are a solution in search of a problem, misguided as a matter of environmental policy, and extremely risky to both the waste services industry and the more than 100,000 customers it serves. 

Either type of zone system would eliminate dozens of locally-owned and operated companies, as well as good-paying jobs while driving up prices to customers and reducing incentives for good service. 

With the sole exception of limiting waste collection services to just one city-selected company in each of twenty zones, ALL of the elements of the proposed legislation are worth full consideration and can be effectively addressed in the city’s existing regulatory system.

The hypothetical improvements promised by a zone system in recycling, organics diversion, traffic congestion, air emissions and other good things are not well-supported by sound thinking, industry knowledge or good data. By 2020, the city’s waste services industry will shrink to around 35 companies capable of providing a full range of services with serious attention to safety, labor standards and other best practices—including beginning to test electric collection trucks. 

Sooner or later, a zone system could reduce the number of companies to as few as five, with severe consequences for customers, locally-owned companies and potentially harming the city’s capacity to respond to emergencies.

It is unfortunate that Councilmember Reynoso did not directly participate in meetings of DSNY’s advisory board, or otherwise meet with industry and customer stakeholders to learn firsthand the many concerns and risks associated with zone-based systems before partnering with the Teamsters to introduce his Monopoly/Cartel Zone proposal.”