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New York, NY — Progressive Caucus Member and Sanitation Committee Chair Antonio Reynoso joined waste and environmental advocates this morning in support of legislation to reform the rogue private carting industry, ahead of a hearing on the bill. The bill, Intro 1574, was formally endorsed by the Progressive Caucus on June 20, 2019, and added to the Caucus’ legislative agenda. The Commercial Waste Zones Bill would limit one private sanitation company to each zone of the city, which would improve the sector’s transparency, accountability, and service to small businesses, with positive implications for the safety of sanitation workers and the environment. The legislation would ensure more efficient routes leading to fewer GHG emissions and increased pedestrian safety, more manageable shifts for workers, as well as more stringent labor, safety, and environmental standards.

Council Member Reynoso stood alongside sanitation workers and environmental justice, safe streets, and small business advocates, including New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, ALIGN, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, NRDC, Teamsters Local 813, Transportation Alternatives, Streets PAC, Yemeni American Merchants Association, and Transform Don’t Trash NYC Coalition. Representatives of these organizations will also testify at the City Council hearing on the waste zone legislation. 

Currently, more than 90 private sanitation companies handle commercial waste generated by office buildings, restaurants, and other businesses. Each garbage truck can service customers across the city – a single neighborhood may be serviced by more than 50 individual carting companies – resulting in collection routes that are long and circuitous. Companies pressure workers to complete the routes in one shift, resulting in 14-to-16 hour shifts, dangerous driving, and frequent crashes. Between 2010 and the fall of 2018, the industry has been involved in 26 fatal crashes. 

This legislation would set up a commercial waste zone system that requires companies to comply with stringent safety, labor, and environmental standards in order to service waste zones. The system will divide the city into at least 20 zones with each zone serviced by one carter. The Department of Sanitation will select waste haulers for each zone through a competitive bidding process that prioritizes fair prices for small businesses, good environmental practices, and high safety standards. The system will cut commercial garbage truck traffic in New York City by 60%, creating more efficient routes that will improve safety for workers and pedestrians and lead to drastically reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

“For years, the private carting industry has operated with blatant disregard for the safety of workers and pedestrians and the health of our environment,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, Chair of the Sanitation Committee, Member of the Progressive Caucus. “My bill, Intro 1574, will authorize the City to enact a commercial waste zone system to finally transform this industry for the sake of workers, communities, and the environment. A zoned system will make routes drastically more efficient— this means improved pedestrian safety and a reduction of vehicle emissions equivalent to the removal of one in five cars off of NYC streets. Furthermore, in order to operate in one of these zones, companies must comply with stringent labor, safety, and environmental standards. I have fought tirelessly alongside my allies to transform the waste industry, and I urge my colleagues to support this bill.”

“Without stringent standards in place, the private carting industry will continue to pose danger to our city’s environment, workers, and pedestrians. Council Member Reynoso’s commercial waste zone bill creates the exact standards we need and as a result, will reduce vehicle emissions, protect laborers, and improve street safety,” said Council Member Diana Ayala, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “I am proud to co-sponsor this comprehensive piece of legislation, which will radically transform the carting industry into one that is aligned with our city’s core values.”

“For too long the City’s private sanitation industry has operated in darkness. It is desperate need of transparency, innovation, and accountability,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “By requiring these companies to finally comply with strict safety, labor, and environmental standards while implementing more efficient routes, this legislation will completely overhaul how this industry works for the better. A commercial citywide zone waste system will better conditions for workers and make the streets safer for pedestrians. Thank you to Council Member Reynoso for being focused on this issue and working to get reforms passed.”    

“Fundamental reform of the private sanitation industry has been urgently needed for years. Council Member Reynoso’s commercial waste zone legislation presents a comprehensive strategy targeting key priorities for New Yorkers — the safety of workers and our communities, air quality and public health, major efficiency and customer service improvements, and more. Thank you to Council Member Reynoso, partners across city government, and all of the residents, workers and advocates who have worked so hard and for so long to bring a commercial waste zone plan to reality,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Member of the Progressive Caucus.

“Private sanitation is still plagued with racial and economic injustice. It is an industry where many work off-the-books, without benefits or minimum wage. Six-day workweeks are the norm and shifts can stretch as long as 18 hours,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, Member of the Progressive Caucus.“Sanitation workers are also exposed to unacceptable dangers on the job, but New York City has an opportunity to protect workers like him going forward. Council Member Reynoso’s Int. 1574 will finally bring accountability to the industry by holding private carters to strict labor and environmental requirements, while confining companies to separate sections of the city to reduce truck traffic. I’d like to thank Council Member Reynoso, Sanitation Commissioner Garcia and the Teamsters for all of their work on the commercial waste zone plan that will finally bring justice to commercial carting.”

“It is important that we reduce the number of miles that these very large commercial waste trucks are driving on our city’s streets,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen, Member of the Progressive Caucus. “In addition to the dangers they present to New Yorker’s health and safety, these trucks add disgusting pollutants that hurt the city’s air quality and threaten our City’s nature. As a Bronxite, member of Progressive Caucus, and as a new member of the City Council’s Committee on Sanitation: I am passionate about finding a solution that cuts our commercial garbage truck traffic in the city by at least 60% and creates safer and smarter routes.” 

“If you were designing a way to collect commercial waste you could hardly come up with something worse than our current system,” said Council Member Brad Lander, Member of the Progressive Caucus. “Overlapping and inefficient truck routes cause unnecessary emissions, noise, traffic, and safety hazards on our local streets. Creating a zoned system where one private sanitation company hauls all the commercial trash for the area will make streets safer for pedestrians, improve working conditions for sanitation workers, and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. With more than two dozen traffic and workplace deaths in the last decade caused by time-strapped waste haulers criss-crossing the entire city, we simply can’t afford to let business continue as usual. Thank you to Council Member Reynoso, and the many sanitation workers, environmental justice and safe streets advocates for working to ensure that we focus on these critical reforms.”

“For too long, we have seen the harm the private carting industry has caused our city,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, Member of the Progressive Caucus. “The industry’s lack of regulation has resulted in employees working 18-hour shifts for unfair wages and in unsafe working conditions. Since 2010, at least 43 people have died in crashes related to private sanitation operation, while trucks fail federal safety checks, hundreds of thousands in wages go unpaid, and safety concerns are swept under the rug. Enough is enough. This legislation would create a safer and more worker-supported zoned system changing our city for the better. Thank you to my colleague, Council Member Antonio Reynoso, and our community leaders for bringing long-overdue accountability to the system through legislation that requires companies comply with strict safety, labor, and environmental standards in order to service waste zones.”

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