- In a recent Crain's New York Business article, representatives of New York City's commercial waste industry were vocally critical of Mayor Bill de Blasio's "zero waste" goals. The plan, announced last year, aims to divert 90% of waste from landfills by 2030.
- More than 20% of the city's residential waste is currently sent to waste-to-energy facilities and about 16% of it is diverted for traditional recycling. The commercial recycling rate is harder to track, though estimates put it around 20%—not including construction and demolition waste.
- Some owners of private carting companies also complained to Crain's about burdensome city regulations and unrealistic expectations for new programs involving commercial recycling and organic waste.
Since New York's last landfill was closed in 2001 with no real contingency plan, the city has struggled to afford the mounting costs of exporting waste. Some of the infrastructure projects started during the previous mayoral administration still aren't operational yet due to construction delays and contract issues. For these reasons and others, many people in the local waste world have been skeptical that de Blasio's zero waste plan could solve this challenge ever since he announced it in April 2015.
Participation is the issue on the residential side, where the city is capturing about 50% of available materials, and some type of incentive or fee program has been mentioned as a possible way to increase that number. Processing capacity for organic materials has also been a concern as the city expands that program to new neighborhoods.
On the commercial side, some haulers are feeling underappreciated at a time of increased scrutiny for their recycling and safety practices. They say that new regulations requiring the collection of recyclables and organic materials from certain categories of business are impractical or unrealistic. Crain's also cites burdensome regulations as one of the reasons that Waste Management and Republic Services both stopped their collection operations in the city.