NYC Trash-Hauling Industry To Get Major Reforms
NEW YORK – New York’s deadly garbage truck industry is undergoing a major overhaul in a landmark law to protect workers and the environment.
Legislation, which the city council passed on Wednesday, will allow private truckers to pick up garbage in so-called commercial waste zones instead of letting trucks drive on strenuous, awkward routes around town, officials say.
The bill, which was passed between 34-14 and 14, will bring major reforms to an industry that has killed dozens of workers and other people in recent years, while reducing unsafe driving and pollution from aging trucks, proponents say.
“Today we end the horrific practices of the private karting industry and the devastating effects they have had on workers, community members and our environment,” said Councilor Antonio Reynoso, a Brooklyn Democrat who pushed for the bill during his six years in office.
The city will follow the example of Los Angeles in creating a zoned garbage collection system by implementing the measure that, along with some councilors who argued it will harm small businesses, creates aggressive opposition from the industry that contain it want.
The new rules will turn off competition, raise prices, degrade service and potentially kill dozens of small businesses as the city’s sanitary department takes control of all commercial garbage collection across the five counties, opponents say.
“Just as Los Angeles removed competition as the foundation for this essential service, no choice, price increases, and declining services with questionable environmental benefits are becoming very real for New York’s businesses and industries,” said Kendall Christiansen, New Yorker’s executive director of responsible waste management , a trading group in the karting industry.
As the city picks up trash from residential buildings, officials say more than 90 private truckers are hauling trash away from businesses and construction sites. (Christiansen put the number of companies at about 35.) The companies generally serve companies across the city and put pressure on tired workers to drive long distances as fast as possible in large trucks that frequently drive and drive red lights, so the authorities.
The results can be fatal. According to ProPublica, around 82 percent of waste worker deaths nationwide in 2016 occurred in the private sector. This documented the death of Mouctar Diallo, a Bronx worker who was run over by a truck and killed after falling.
According to the new system, the Ministry of Hygiene will divide the city into at least 20 zones, each of which, according to the council, will be served by up to three carters. This is different from Los Angeles, where 11 zones are served by a single company at a time. Five companies will also be selected to pick up large containers from waste disposal stations, city officials said.
Companies are required to submit proposals to participate in the program that indicate that they will support their goals of improving work safety, reducing emissions, improving customer service and reducing the number of kilometers traveled by garbage trucks.
The government of Mayor Bill de Blasio first gave its support for the zone proposal last November. Reynoso and others formulated this as a policy of environmental justice, saying that pollution from garbage trucks harms certain parts of the city more than others.
However, some lawmakers fear that the measure could create a monopoly in the commercial waste market. As written, a single carter could control up to three-quarters of the city’s routes, said Barry Grodenchik, a member of the Queens Council.
“It’s a sad day for New York City and I know we will regret that day,” said Mark Gjonaj, a member of the Bronx Council. Gjonaj, a Democrat, did business with an owner of a now-closed garbage truck and has been a major supporter of the industry, ProPublica reported last year.
This article has been updated to clarify the voting results. The voices read at the city council meeting were different from those later reflected in the city council records.