An effort to fundamentally change how commercial waste is picked up and processed in New York City may be heading toward approval with newly drafted legislation that is set to be released. The latest bill, details of which were described to POLITICO, represents an apparent deal between labor groups, some industry players, the City Council and the mayor’s office in a fight that has played out in the streets and the chambers of City Hall for six years. If passed, the measure represents the most significant reform of the city’s commercial waste industry since a city-led commission began removing organized crime from the industry in the 1990s.
Council Member Antonio Reynoso, chairman of the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste, told POLITICO the latest version includes several key changes from the original bill floated earlier this year. It advances what is known as a non-exclusive zoning model — dividing the city into sections in which a maximum of three waste companies can operate — and creates incentives to switch to more sustainable vehicles and haul trash to more reputable waste transfer stations. There are also provisions to increase public safety training requirements for sanitation workers and authorize the Department of Sanitation to set a minimum rate waste haulers can charge customers.
“Over the past six years, I have worked closely and diligently with all stakeholders — environmental, labor, and transportation advocates, business owners, and private carting companies — to craft a bill that both meets our goals and addresses our City’s waste management needs,” Reynoso said in a statement provided to POLITICO. “I am proud of the resulting piece of legislation and am confident that the system’s implementation will improve the industry for workers while making our city safer and more sustainable for current residents and generations to come.”
The zoning system limits how many waste companies can service parts of the city, reducing congestion and simplifying routes for workers. Waste companies will have to apply to service a single zone, giving the city greater authority to set additional labor and recycling standards.