StreetsPAC's Testimony to City Council on Commercial Waste Zone Implementation

We testified today at the New York City Council's Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management and Committee on Small Business joint oversight hearing on preparing for the implementation of Commercial Waste Zones, and in support of two related bills that would create a Commercial Waste Zones working group and require the Department of Sanitation to develop a plan for accepting commercial waste at city-operated marine-transfer stations, respectively. The creation of a Commercial Waste Zone system has significant implications for making streets safer. Our full testimony follows below.

Nearly four years ago, in June of 2019, we testified in these chambers before this committee in support of Intro 1574-2019, the bill that later that year would become Local Law 199, requiring the establishment of a Commercial Waste Zone program in New York City. Three years and three months since it became law, as we sit here today, the Commercial Waste Zone program has yet to be implemented.

Everything we said in that testimony in 2019 remains true today. The Commercial Waste Zone program will lead to a huge reduction in vehicle miles traveled by commercial haulers, reducing overall VMT by approximately 50% versus the current free for all, and equating to an annual reduction of more than two million vehicle miles traveled.

That is critically important to us as advocates for safer streets, since drivers of commercial-waste vehicles have struck and killed dozens of people across New York City over the past decade. The existing system, if one can even call it that, in which different carting companies drive haphazard routes that can crisscross the entire city, leads to some of the most dangerous driving behaviors one can imagine: blatant running of red lights, driving against the direction of traffic, reversing through intersections, and reckless speeding. Anyone who’s walked a street late at night in New York City has witnessed this firsthand.

The Commercial Waste Zone program’s large reduction in vehicle miles traveled will also have important benefits beyond improved safety. Reduced VMT will mean better air quality and lower greenhouse-gas emissions, and the more streamlined routing of trucks will lead to reduced noise levels. Crucially, worker safety will also be optimized under a zoned system. There are additional substantial and meaningful benefits, as well. 

For all these reasons, we support Intro 933, which would institute a Commercial Waste Zone working group to advise on the program’s implementation, but only if the creation of such a working group will push the process forward, and rapidly so. While acknowledging the many challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been nearly four years since Local Law 199 was established, and it’s time to put it into action. 

We also support Intro 493, which would require the Department of Sanitation to establish a plan for accepting commercial solid waste at city-owned marine-transfer stations. We believe there is excess capacity at the city’s marine-transfer stations, and allowing the processing of commercial waste at these facilities would further reduce the number of miles driven by commercial-waste vehicles, especially in environmental-justice communities, rendering all the benefits inherent in reduced truck traffic.

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published this page in News 2023-02-22 19:20:19 -0500
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