New York City council approves new
waste management plan
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg hailed
the passage of a landmark waste management plan that will fundamentally
change the way New York transports waste.
The plan, which addresses both residential and
commercial waste, as well as waste prevention and recycling, should
be fully operational by 2009.
Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) will change the way the City
transports waste. Currently, trucks and private tractor trailers
export about 84 percent of the City’s residential garbage,
which totals 12,000 tons a day. Under the new plan, sanitation trucks
will be used to export only 13 percent, while the use of long-haul
tractor-trailer trucks will be eliminated entirely. The City will
export nearly 90 percent of the residential waste by barge or rail.
Under the SWMP, New York City will build four
new Marine Transfer Stations (MTS), at an approximate cost of $360
million. Barges will carry containerized waste from sanitation trucks
to an inter-modal facility. The barges will be transferred to a
railcar or a sea-faring barge and sent to an out-of-state waste
disposal facility. In addition, the plan will make use of up to
six privately-owned rail transfer stations in Brooklyn, Queens,
and the Bronx. Together, the rail and marine transfer stations will
handle nearly all of the City’s residential waste.
As a result, sanitation trucks will travel about
2.7 million fewer miles per year, and travel by tractor-trailer
trucks will be reduced by 3 million miles per year.
To be economically responsible, the plan includes
a long-term strategy to deal with the rising cost of trucking the
City’s garbage out-of-state. Transfer stations currently used
by the City are privately owned and operated, which leaves the City
susceptible to significant future cost increases. By building four
new transfer sites that will be owned and operated by the Department
of Sanitation, the City will be able to control costs and guard
against potential spikes by signing 20 year contracts with private
The SWMP will also achieve greater equity among
the five boroughs. For many years, Staten Island was forced to accept
most of the City’s trash. When the Fresh Kills landfill was
closed, the City had little choice but to truck most garbage out
of the City – and that put new burdens on other communities,
particularly in North Brooklyn, the South Bronx, and Southeast Queens,
where most of the City’s private transfer stations are located.
Under the new plan, the bulk of waste generated in a borough will
be taken to a transfer station in that same borough.
The SWMP includes a new and ambitious recycling
plan. The City will soon enter into a 20-year contract with Sims
Hugo Neu to process metal, glass, plastic, and some paper. The long-term
structure of the deal will allow the company to invest in a modern
recycling plant in Sunset Park that will continue to make recycling
far more economical than before. The SWMP also creates new pilot
programs to place recycling receptacles in public places and to
collect yard waste in the spring; an expanded composting program;
expanded recycling outreach, and numerous studies intended to help
reduce waste and expand its recycling capacity.
The recycling plan will create a new waterborne
network of transfer facilities that will accept recyclable material
for shipment by barge to and from the Brooklyn plant. This will
include the re-activated Gansevoort Marine Transfer Station, as
well as Sims Hugo Neu’s current facilities at Hunts Point,
Long Island, and Jersey City along with its new Sunset Park facility.
The overwhelming majority of inbound and outbound
recyclable material will be transported by barge, which will save
the Sanitation Department 55,000 miles of travel per year.