Transform Don't Trash Commercial Waste Study is Out!

Here ingarbage-truck-by-clare-trapassofinal NYC we have an issue with our waste. Since we’re the city that never sleeps, we are also the city that produces the most waste and recycles the least.

Although the world looks to New York City as a leader in fashion, culture, business and more- we are far behind on our waste processing.  Residential waste is collected and processed by the city, while commercial waste is left to the 260 privet haulers (aka trucking) companies.  Transform Don’t Trash NYC is a coalition of some of the best environmental justice organizations in this city- and they have taken on a study to better understand why are we slacking, and what can we do to fix our urgent waste issue here in this beautiful city we call home.

As a lot of us already know, Northern Brooklyn has the largest cluster of waste transfer stations in all of New York City.  This means, when those 260 privet companies send their 4,200 trucks daily to pick up commercial recycling and waste, inefficiency leads to serious environmental and community health risks.

Let’s take a step back to understand why this system is broken.  Transform Don’t Trash NYC’s study breaks down the current system of commercial waste removal.   Halcrow estimates that “commercial haulers drive about 12 miles to collect each ton of waste (including recycling). In contrast, DSNY fleet reports produce estimates of about 4 miles per ton of waste and recyclables collected”.  This is comparing commercial and residential collection.  Since there is only one controller of DSNY- there is space for strategic planning of truck routes.

With privet haulers, they end up driving a lot further and indirectly.  For example, the study took a poll of 1 commercial street in NYC that had 22 different haulers.  Logically, it would make sense to have one truck going down the line and collecting waste from the whole strip- but the system is so broken that we have trucks all over the city creating extreme overlap, traffic, air pollution and more.

So what should we do about this problem? 

Transform Don’t Trash NYC has looked at progressive cities across the country and has recommended a zoning solution through a bidding process that can result in efficient flow of waste to the transfer stations.  This will also be an easier way to enforce commitments on recycling, working conditions, efficiency, pollution reduction, and equity.  By taking these actions, NYC would lower greenhouse gas emissions by 2-4 millions tons of CO2/year , the equivalent of taking up to 800,000 cars off of the road!

How is NAG supporting this waste reduction movement you ask?

As you already may know, the city has committed to an 80% reduction of green house gas emissions by 2050!  NAG is part of making this goal a reality through our various environmental justice projects here in Northern Brooklyn.  Through Reduce Reuse Recycle Greenpoint, we are working with local restaurants to conduct waste audits and consult one on one with businesses to redesign their waste processes.  We want to mitigate the amount of trash that goes into the landfill by education on proper sorting to hauler communication.  As groups like Transform Don’t Trash and others work to incentivize ethical and necessary recycling programming, we are here supporting the implementation.  We want to show our community how simple, cost effective and rewarding reduce, reuse and recycling is.  Until we are able to align our community’s needs with public policy, we need all the support we can get!

Read Transform Don’t Trashes full study here:


If you have any further questions or relevant information for the Transform Don’t Trash group, please contact the team at:

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