Anti-franchising group set to rejoin NWRA's New York chapter
- New Yorkers for Responsible Waste Management (NYRWM), a trade association dedicated to open market alternatives for reforming the city's commercial waste industry, has announced plans for a "realignment" with the National Waste & Recycling Association's local chapter
- NWRA's local chapter will now have more than 50 companies once the move is complete. “I am pleased that the entirety of New York City’s waste services industry will realign with our New York City Chapter. Our industry is stronger when we work together. We look forward to supporting our new members and advocating for solutions affecting our industry,” said NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith in a statement.
- NYRWM is expected to go dormant and its current executive director, Kendall Christiansen, will lead the local NWRA chapter. He previously held a similar role until leaving for the new group in Jan. 2017, prompting NWRA's Northeast regional manager Steve Changaris to take over.
The de Blasio administration's years-long interest in a commercial waste zone system has become a foremost concern for many New York service providers. According to the latest draft, the plan could result in as many as 20 non-exclusive zones in the city, with up to 68 contract awards. Proponents of the concept say it's the only way to create a more safe, efficient and environmentally beneficial system. NYRWM's mission has been to advocate for reforms that wouldn't disrupt the current open market system.
The group's two-plus year run is being billed as a success by leadership due to heightened awareness around the commercial waste sector's perspective, stronger alliances with the city's business community and the introduction of a zoning counterproposal bill in the New York City Council over the summer. According to Christiansen, the key factor behind NYRWM's founding was a perceived lack of adequate dialogue on the city's part ahead of the planning process.
“NYRWM's decision to engage in the debate over waste zones was based on the de Blasio administration's failure to conduct a public review process that was actually designed to explore the best approaches to achieving the important goals of increasing safety and environmental performance," he said in a statement. “Instead, the administration prematurely opted — mostly for political reasons — to pursue a system of zones and franchises that would, among other things, negatively impact thousands of businesses served by our industry and limit employment opportunities for many industry workers.”
For some of the mid-sized companies that split off to form NYRWM in 2016, the proposal has been viewed as a serious threat. While the proposed system has been designed for any company to participate, some believe they'll be outmatched in terms of the access to capital required for a viable bid or would see a reduction in customers even if they were successful. For companies that remained in the NWRA chapter — Waste Management, Waste Connections and Action Environmental among them — the prospect has been less existential, given their larger footprints.
The NWRA's neutral position on franchising at the time – given the lucrative exclusive contracts some of its larger members have in other states – created a local rift over how to proceed once de Blasio and the Department of Sanitation formally backed franchising in the summer of 2016. Following Smith taking the leadership role at NWRA in 2017, and a May 2018 vote by the local chapter to formally oppose franchising, the conditions became more amenable for a reunion.
Upcoming priorities for the newly bolstered NWRA chapter are expected to include participating in the city's environmental review process over the zoning proposal and pursuing a legal challenge to a recently passed "waste equity" law regarding transfer station capacity.
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