In New York City, more than a hundred Department of Sanitation workers have contracted Covid-19 and the economic halt to some of the city’s biggest industries is putting the squeeze on private waste haulers. The de Blasio administration announced Friday it was delaying a timeline to implement a new private waste regulatory system, dealing a significant blow to a long-sought policy that city leaders hoped would improve recycling, safety and labor standards.
Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia wrote in a Friday letter that the city had initially planned to publish new rules in March and April and launch a competitive solicitation process in late spring — key steps to putting the new system into effect. The agency is now pushing back its timeline by at least one month because of the pandemic.
“It is now inevitable that the schedule be delayed as a result of the state of emergency that has consumed our city and the economic disruptions that have affected this industry,” Garcia wrote in the letter, first obtained by POLITICO. “At this time, we are delaying our implementation schedule by at least one month. We will provide another update in April, once we have a better understanding of the implications of this crisis on our city and on this industry.” Despite the delay, the department remains “fully committed” to implementing the new model, the letter read.
After years of delay and study, the City Council passed a law last October allowing the de Blasio administration to move forward with a new waste zone system — which will divide the city into 20 zones that will each be served by up to three private waste haulers. The new regulatory regime would put an end to the current open-market system, where up to 90 different companies have crisscrossed the five boroughs every night to pick up commercial waste.