UPDATE: This article has been updated to include the full list of consultants that are part of the team led by Arcadis.
- New York's Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has selected Arcadis, a global consulting firm based in the Netherlands, for an $8 million contract to oversee the potential establishment of a commercial waste zone system in the city. The contract was awarded on May 22 and registered with the city comptroller's office on July 7.
- DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia told Waste Dive that the early stages of work had already begun. "Arcadis is the lead on that work, with a number of other consultants, and so they are starting to reach out to the industry and to stakeholders to make sure that we are creating a robust program that meets everyone's needs," she said at the NYC Food Waste Fair.
- Other consulting firms on the team include Eunomia, HR&A Advisors, Public Works Partners, Burns & McDonnell, Kessler Consulting and For Sustainability Too. Arcadis deferred to DSNY for comment and the agency did not respond to a request for further information about the team's next steps or timetable prior to publication. The contract is set to run through June 2023.
This contract is another incremental step toward developing a system that many in the city's waste world viewed as close to impossible until last summer. Since DSNY and the Business Integrity Commission released a study outlining the merits of a zoned system in August, with support from Mayor Bill de Blasio, the conversation has shifted. While the main labor and environmental coalition backing this concept has continued to make noise, and the main local hauler group has tried offering ideas for reform without a wholesale change, there has been considerably less public debate than in recent years.
Rather than getting hashed out at city council hearings or in press conferences, the next phase will likely happen behind the scenes. It will take months, if not longer, for the Arcadis team to work through the details and present their initial ideas about how this zone system might come to fruition. The city's original request for proposals outlined a wide range of potential responsibilities including assistance with environmental review, public engagement, the legislative process, legal challenges and bid solicitation. Based on the six-year contract term — with the possibility of extensions — the end of this process could outlast most of the city's elected officials.
In Los Angeles, where a commercial waste zone system just took effect this month — despite a last-minute legal challenge — the full implementation process lasted more than six years. In a sign that New York will be drawing from this experience, sanitation officials from both cities have made trips to visit each other in recent months. Though as is often noted, New York will present its own unique challenges. While Arcadis may be new to big projects in New York's waste sector, the firm is currently performing millions of dollars worth of work for other city agencies and brings a deep well of environmental experience to the project. They will now play a key role in helping figure out if and how to enact the biggest change to New York's commercial waste industry in decades.