Coalition calls on next administration to tackle commercial waste industry

new york city trash commercial waste
A coalition of community activists, politicians and labor unions challenged the next administration to tackle the commercial waste industry, saying Wednesday that reform would both help the environment and create jobs.
Credit: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

The trash talk continues at City Hall.

A coalition of community activists, politicians and labor unions challenged the next administration to tackle the commercial waste industry, saying Wednesday that reform would both help the environment and create jobs.

“New York City trash is the wild west—it hurts workers and communities,” said Matt Ryan, executive director of ALIGN, part of the new coalition.

Restaurants, offices and businesses in the city generate 3.2 million tons of solid waste each year, 2 million tons of which are sent to landfills and incinerators, according to a report released by the group.

They estimate more than 90 percent of such waste can be recycled or composted and that recycling sorting creates 20 times the jobs per ton than landfilling and incineration.

In addressing the issues with commercial waste, advocates said the next administration needs to build on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s environmental legacy.

“It has to be the trampoline from which the next administration takes it further,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of UPROSE, who highlighted that lower-income communities are most negatively affected by the city’s waste.

Trash has been a major issue in the mayoral election, due in large part to opposition against a marine waste transfer station planned for the Upper East Side.

Opponents say that the dump will harm the community and believe there’s other options.

Democratic nominee Bill de Blasio supports the waste management plan that includes the dump, while Republican Joe Lhota has pledged to fight against it, speaking with the station’s opponents last weekend.

A campaign spokesman said de Blasio would review the commercial waste report. Lhota’s campaign did not immediately return requests for comment.

The coalition said that the city must preserve the current waste plan, as well as expand upon it.

Brooklyn Councilman Stephen Levin, who lives in and represents Greenpoint, said neighborhoods like his should have the same protections as other areas.

“My neighbors know the sound of a commercial carting truck hitting a pothole—it sounds kind of like a small bomb,” Levin said, adding, “This is a moral imperative.”

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders



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