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Commercial Waste Zones Testimony

Today, the Partnership for New York City submitted testimony to the City Council in support of a plan for non-exclusive commercial waste zones, which will deliver environmental and safety improvements while ensuring good customer service and competitive pricing.

Thank you Chair Reynoso and members of the committee for the opportunity to testify on Int. 1574 concerning the establishment of commercial waste zones. The Partnership for New York City represents the city’s business leaders and largest private sector employers. We work together with government, labor and the nonprofit sector to enhance the economy of the five boroughs of New York City.

The Partnership has been a strong advocate of efforts to improve air quality and reduce traffic. We are inaugural members of the OneNYC Advisory Board which has assisted in developing city initiatives that promote reduction in carbon emissions and improved resiliency and public health. Commercial waste zones are one mechanism for advancing all these goals.

For more than two years, we participated in the Commercial Waste Zones Advisory Board convened by the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and the Business Integrity Commission (BIC). The purpose was to gather input to inform the zone plan for commercial waste. The most important issue for the business community in these conversations is whether the zones would be exclusive (i.e., only one carter in each zone) or non-exclusive (i.e., multiple carters in each zone). It became clear to us and many members of the Advisory Board that the zone plan must not involve an exclusive franchise, or we will have a monopoly situation that works for no one, with the likelihood of reverting to the type of corruption that existing before BIC was put in place. We contend that non-exclusive zones can achieve environmental and safety objectives while still ensuring good customer service and competitive pricing.

Int. 1574 ignores the recommendations of the Advisory Board for non-exclusive zones for reasons that we do not understand. The Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS) prepared by DSNY concluded that the lack of competition inherent in exclusive zones is likely to cause increased prices and a deterioration of customer service. Few carters have the capacity to exclusively service an entire zone, suggesting that this policy would result in most of the city’s commercial carters going out of business and creating a monopoly within zones. Customers would lose all bargaining power and incentives to provide good service would disappear.

The Partnership enthusiastically supports the DSNY/BIC plan for non-exclusive commercial waste zones, which is the product of extensive discussions with stakeholders and a recognition of the drawbacks to exclusive zones. The DGEIS found no significant differences in the reduction of vehicle miles traveled (a key measure related to truck traffic and emissions) between exclusive and non-exclusive zone plans.

We also urge that large commercial customers from whom waste is picked up and directly transported to a transfer station be exempt from zone requirements, since there would be no benefit of forcing them to use the zone hauler.