NYC anti-franchising group gains support, hires first director

Dive Brief:

  • New Yorkers for Responsible Waste Management (NYRWM), a trade association representing local private carters and related companies, has hired Kendall Christiansen as its first executive director. 
  • Christiansen is the principal of Gaia Strategies, through which he has consulted on North American waste issues, and has a long history with New York's recycling system dating back to the launch of its curbside program in 1989. Prior to this job he had been managing the National Waste & Recycling Association’s (NWRA) local chapter since March 2016.
  • Steve Changaris, NWRA's Northeast regional manager, will now handle operations for the local chapter. This marks a return to a role he previously filled after David Biderman left NWRA to become CEO of the Solid Waste Association of North America in 2015.

Dive Insight:

Since it launched early last year NYRWM has grown to include 40 members — 14 of which have voting status — and taken up the mantle of fighting a potential commercial waste franchising system in the city. According to NWRA's communications director this was inspired by the association's choice to not become further involved in the franchising debate.

As NYRWM's ranks have increased it has begun speaking out more and retained the services of a lobbying firm. According to city records, the association paid the firm Bolton-St. Johns $83,500 to target the Business Integrity Commission (BIC), the body that regulates private carters, in 2016. Last summer, BIC joined the Department of Sanitation in supporting a zone collection system based on the results of a city study. The city says this would help reduce truck emissions, increase diversion rates and improve labor standards. 

Local carting companies, concerned that such a system could put some of them out of business, have rallied in opposition. In an emailed statement to Waste Dive, Christiansen outlined their stance.

"Dealing with New York City’s massive waste stream is a huge challenge.  While the industry doesn’t disagree with the city’s goals, the city leapt to the wrong conclusion based on a single flawed study," he wrote. "NYRWM wants to help it to revisit two steps it missed – active consultation with both the industry and the city’s business community, and full and fair consideration of options to achieve those goals."

Christiansen told Waste Dive that NYRWM can be expected to make their case in new and more visible ways throughout 2017.

In the meantime, Transform Don't Trash, the coalition of labor and environmental advocates that supports a zone collection system, has been buoyed by the approval of a similar one in Los Angeles. Yet they've been stymied on related efforts to pass local legislation that would reduce transfer station capacity in select neighborhoods. They recently held a protest outside the office of one Bronx council member who has been withholding his support.

The next concrete step in this process will be DSNY's award of an $8 million contract for a consultant to assist in implementing the system. The consultant is set to start in June, though both NYRWM and TDT are sure to make their voices heard between now and then.

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Filed Under: Collections & Transfer
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