As one of the six largest private trash haulers in New York City, Mr. T Carting aims to be one of the top two by working towards enhancing the perception of the waste management industry and highlighting its ongoing role as a key part of New York City’s waste and recycling infrastructure and its contributions to the local and regional economy.

Mr. T Carting was founded in 1947 by Thomas Toscano in Glendale (Queens), New York. Starting with one truck, seven customers and one employee, the business expanded slowly, and gradually encompassed more neighborhoods. Between 1948 and 1970, several family members joined the team, followed by members of the second generation in the 1970s and 1980s. At that point, the company serviced a substantial part of Queens and adjacent Brooklyn. As of the 1990s, the third generation has joined the company and is assuming leadership roles.

Mr. T Carting opened its own waste transfer station in 1989 and its recycling center in 2005 and now has more than 95 employees and 30 vehicles, including real-load packer trucks, roll-offs, specialized food waste vehicles and box trucks. Serving Brooklyn (Kings County), Queens (Queens County) and Manhattan (New York County), Mr. T Carting accepts 500 tons of commercial waste daily, from its own trucks and other companies. The transfer station handles garbage destined for landfills and incinerators. Their Scholes Street Recycling facility is located next to the waste transfer station and handles source separated scrap material.

Mr. T Carting separates recyclables like cardboard, rigid plastic and scrap metal from mixed waste at their Hi-Tech Resource Recovery facility. Most of the material is corrugated cardboard and scrap metal; it is cleaned up and contaminants are removed, so it can be marketed. This yields about 500 tons per week of commodities. Source separated scrap material is delivered to Scholes Street Recycling by Mr. T Carting’s trucks, and third-party carters, sorted, baled and shipped to both domestic mills and international markets.

Taking a Proactive Approach

“The municipal government of the City of New York is a leading advocate for zero waste. With recycling a top priority, and a stable growing local economy, Mr. T Carting has made significant upgrades to its recycling programs,” says Tom Toscano, CEO of Mr. T Carting. Since the summer of 2017, the majority of Mr. T’s commercial customers use its single-stream recycling services. At that time, the company installed RFID tags on all of the metal dumpsters it supplies to its commercial waste and recycling clients. Mr. T’s clients can now explore their own pathway to Zero Waste by using the company’s food waste collection service, joining the single stream recycling program and then using the company’s trash service to remove whatever is left.

To stay ahead of the curve, the recycling/material recovering facility is reviewing sorting equipment to reduce landfill waste, while, in terms of vehicle safety, Mr. T Carting installed sideguards on the entire fleet to reduce the risk of injuries or fatalities for pedestrians and cyclists. These guards will not be mandated until 2024, yet the company did not wait to make its trucks safer for everyone. “Drivers also currently use innovative technology installed in the trucks to optimize their routes. In some cases, these software programs include variable rate billing, which is a cost-saving for customers,” said Toscano. The drivers are responding well to these improvements. They enjoy using the upgraded technology and find there is almost no paperwork. Every stop on the route appears in order on the screen in the truck cabin. Cameras installed on all sides of the trucks track pickups, which results in very few missed pickups.

Efficient Operations

In order to ensure that all drivers are properly trained, they undergo a minimum of eight hours of pre-employment orientation and training before beginning route collection. Sessions include safety videos, policy/procedure review and hands-on training. New drivers ride along with supervisors before they are assigned routes.

Safety is a top priority at Mr. T Carting, and a formal safety program was established in 2003. As a result, the company has substantially reduced its rate of accidents and injuries over the past 15 years. Paul Zambrotta, the company’s Safety Officer, explained that “Mr. T Carting has one of the best fleets in the industry. Employees who are trained mechanics and welders perform most of the maintenance and repairs. Having well-maintained vehicles is of the utmost importance to ensure the safety of the drivers and helpers, as well as the safety of the public, roads and the businesses of customers.”

Sideguards were installed on the entire fleet to reduce injuries to pedestrians and cyclists, plus telematics and video surveillance have aided in driver/helper safety. Programs in behavior training are also part of an effort to ensure employees meet the highest safety standards. Mr. T Carting’s employees have won the National Waste and Recycling Association’s Driver of the Year award four times.

Mr. T Carting partners with local community organizations in recycling and conservation campaigns. Employees and their families regularly participate in programs, such as the annual Earth Day Cleanup held by Friends of Forest Park, at a nearby municipal park. In addition, Mr. T Carting offers e-waste drop-off and collection periodically, in conjunction with local schools.

Facing Challenges

A challenge for Mr. T Carting, as for many in the industry, is the shortage of drivers, which some may even call a drought. One initiative is to look beyond drivers who have experience in the waste industry and hire drivers who have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and experience with other vehicles. “In response to the candidates who say, ‘You can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience without a job,’ we focuses on training drivers through its eight-hour pre-employment and safety instruction,” said Zambrotta. “The training is designed to mold and sculpt the drivers, and is consistent with the company’s emphasis on customer service and safety.”

Another challenge is the growth of the recycling component of the business. “There are changes in the end markets for cardboard. For example, China has lowered the acceptable standards for contamination for certain recycled materials. When cardboard and paper are recycled, there may be food waste in a cardboard coffee cup, and that can contaminate much of the cardboard and paper in that recycle bin or clear bag. Consequently, it is more difficult to yield recyclable cardboard to meet these stricter standards. Mr. T Carting is researching adding sorting equipment at its material recycling facility to improve sorting efficiencies, reduce contamination and lessen the volume of material sent to landfill,” commented Zambrotta. The company is also working with the Department of Sanitation of New York City and other industry participants regarding how to improve glass recycling rates. Additionally, Mr. T Carting urges more education for customers on the limits of recyclable materials, for example, that waxed cardboard is not recyclable. This is a time-consuming process that is executed by the sales team at the store level and is complemented by using social media to promote best practices that reinforce municipal regulations. The company is actively working with city agencies as well.

A third issue is franchising. For many years, the waste collection industry in New York was characterized by territoriality, with different companies carving out the lion’s share of the business in given areas. In the 1990s, this changed and customers were able to compare services and prices among the various companies in the market and choose among the players. Now, the Department of Sanitation has expressed an interest in franchising, which represents, to a degree, a return to the previous model. Said Toscano, “Should franchising move forward, it will likely mean customers will have almost no choice in the marketplace. They will, as a result, be subject to price increases because of reduced free market competition in their geographic area. In several major cities in California, for example, customers’ disposal costs recently skyrocketed after the implementation of commercial franchising. Members of the New York City trade waste industry, and the advocacy group New Yorkers for Responsible Waste Management, actively oppose the franchising approach and are in dialogue with the New York City officials on this issue.”

New and Innovative Solutions 

Improving waste diversion, as noted earlier, is a significant challenge. The City announced its goal of getting to Zero Waste by 2030 and each year the service standards change a bit more. As diversion goals change, the collection and processing industry are facing increased challenges. Simply because items were segregated in a green or blue bin, does not mean they can be diverted from the landfill.

As one of the six largest private trash haulers in New York City, Mr. T Carting aims to be one of the top two. One goal is to continue to divert more recyclable materials from landfills. Another is to expand the use of on-board computing technology to improve navigation, which can result in fewer missed pickups. The software is integrated with back office operations. Technology is a valuable resource to improve efficiency on routes, enhance customer service and ensure that the fleet is among the most advanced in the industry. The company is always focused on new and innovative ways to serve customers as well as incorporate improvements that make the vehicles safer and operate cleaner. Mr. T Carting also aspires to enhance the perception of the waste management industry by highlighting its ongoing role as a key part of the City’s waste and recycling infrastructure and its contributions to the local and regional economy. The company is cooperating with local initiatives in the industry and with government to work toward achieving these goals.

Everyone at Mr. T Carting is especially proud of celebrating the company’s 70th anniversary in 2017. “The company was founded in 1947 by a young entrepreneur, Tom Toscano, and now the third generation is leading the operations,” Toscano pointed out, “It is never a given that family members will want to be involved in any business. Plus, the competitive nature of the waste management field, coupled with recent trends in consolidation, have affected many former players. Mr. T Carting has adapted with the times and continues to move forward to a bright future.”

For more information, contact Paul Zambrotta, Director of Safety, at (718) 821-9706 x 130 or e-mail [email protected], or Adam Mitchell, Resource Management and Business Development, at (718) 303-3278, e-mail [email protected] or visit