Editor's Note: This story has been updated and modified to reflect the newest information available from the full study results.
- Based on a new study commissioned by New York's Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and Business Integrity Commission (BIC), the city says it has found sufficient evidence to pursue a "zone collection" system for commercial waste haulers, as originally reported by Politico.
- The study says that private haulers travel more than 23 million miles per year to in the city and a zone system could result in a 49-68% reduction in vehicle miles traveled. A 42-64% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions was also projected.
- DSNY Commissioner Kathryn Garcia told Politico it will take an estimated two years to develop a plan and an additional three years to roll it out. City Council approval will also be required.
Per a statement on its website, DSNY is taking a strong stance behind these results:
"The study reveals that the current open-market commercial waste system generates excess truck traffic, is highly concentrated among a few carters, has little transparency in pricing, and prevents private carting companies from achieving efficiencies that allow investments in recycling initiatives or cleaner trucks."
Plans for this study were originally announced in April 2015 as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's OneNYC sustainability plan. At the time BIC, the commercial waste industry's regulatory agency, projected the study would be complete within six to nine months. Yet challenges such as obtaining uniform data from haulers delayed this process and prompted DSNY to get involved last fall.
The next steps in this process are not immediately clear and more specific details can be expected in the coming days. While other cities have some form of franchise or zone system for commercial collections, New York's would be the largest. The closest example is a planned system in Los Angeles, though implementation is still ongoing. That city is currently reviewing bids and is expected to announce results within the next month.
Throughout New York's process, representatives of the local waste industry have largely opposed any form of a zone collection system while labor and environmental advocates have championed it as a way to reform the industry. This has led to an ongoing — and at times conflicting — debate about wages, recycling rates and safety. While this particular study mainly focuses on routing efficiencies it can be expected to reignite the debate around all of those issues.
A statement fom Ben Velocci, president of New Yorkers for Responsible Waste Management (NYRWM), has already expressed this opposition. "The idea that a move to a zone system can effectively replace a highly regulated system ... is seriously misplaced," he wrote. "A collection model using zones will create a high level of uncertainty for the industry and the business community."
Waste Dive will have further analysis and reaction to this news later in the week.