NYC passes Commercial Waste Zones bill

After more than six years of planning, the New York City Council has passed the Commercial Waste Zones bill (Intro 1574) that would create at least 20 different zones and designate a select number of private waste haulers to provide services in each zone.

The Transform Don’t Trash NYC coalition says the new policy will reform the city’s existing private trash hauling industry while raising the sector’s transparency, accountability and quality of service to small businesses.

Photo: Transform Don’t Trash NYC
NYC Council Member Antonio Reynoso

Opponents, however, say the bill could lead to a near monopoly that could put dozens of private carters in danger of losing their businesses.

The legislation was sponsored by New York City Council Member Antonio Reynoso and passed Oct. 30. The legislation creates a competitive bid to assign private carters to collect waste in each commercial district, cutting private garbage truck traffic by more than half across the city, according to the New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY). Private carters will need to meet baseline standards to be eligible for a zone, and their proposals will be judged based on their plans to improve safety, recycling, pollution and job quality. The bill caps the number of private carters in any zone at three.

The carters will be chosen through a competitive bidding process starting early next year with a request for proposal. Contracts are set to be awarded in 2021, according to a road map of the plan released by DSNY last year.

The coalition says in addition to provisions limiting the number of private waste haulers on the road, the bill contains worker protections, a rate floor, waste facility standards and stronger requirements for low-polluting trucks.

The National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA), Arlington, Virginia, opposes the bill. “As we move from the legislative process to implementation and administration of the new commercial waste zone collection system that was opposed by NWRA, many unresolved issues remain,” says Steve Changaris, NWRA Northeast region vice president. “We will continue to engage with the city as it moves from the existing private competitive commercial waste collection system toward its new governmentally controlled zone collection system for commercial waste.”