Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Waste Redux

As a sequel to our post yesterday on the need for the City Council to do a better job at devising a sound waste disposal alternative to the mayor's feeble Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP), we take another look at the City Council's alternative proposal that was hurried into print just as the Speaker was being ambushed by the Bloomberg's fair siting push. This plan, "Council's Proposed Modifications to the SWMP" was, quite frankly, similar to the administration's proposal in its lack of imagination.

What is depressingly similar is the way in which both plans rely heavily on "education," a foundation that we believe is evidence of the paucity of any real waste reduction efforts. The Council proposal, however, goes a step further in its advocacy of an increased recycling bureaucracy, a new agency whose tentacles that would be institutionalized community board by community board.

In fact the Council plan is reminiscent of the Recycle First methodology first proposed over a decade ago. This group, a consortium of environmental organizations, had actually advocated a recycling coordinator---on each block! While the Council doesn't go quite that far it manages to incorporate the basic ideological premises of the Recycle Firsters.

In addition, the Council calls for the passage of the expanded Bottle Bill legislation that is literally bottled up in the State Senate. It does so without any reasonable analysis of how this bottle bill expansion will mesh with the municipal recycling efforts (or how it will impact local stores, as if anyone cared).

The most egregious part of the report is the section on commercial waste. There is a brief discussion of the problems of the 59th Street transfer station but the only thing said about commercial waste is the promise that the Council will put forward a mandatory commercial recycling law! This is said in spite of the fact that the Council had already introduced a proposal to legalize commercial food waste disposers, a proposal that would lead to a 90% recycling rate in food stores if implemented. No discussion of disposers is found anywhere in the report or the subsequent document submitted by the consultant retained by the Council (very strange indeed).

As for the report submitted by Ecodata Inc., suffice it to say that it should have come with a money back guarantee. We don't think that anyone was even aware that the Council had hired a consultant and, after reading this, we now know why. The report also explains why the legislature looked so unprepared when asked to confront the mayor's own feeble effort at a SWMP.

Going forward it is now crystal clear that if the City Council is to function effectively as a legislative body it needs to hire a professional staff in technical areas such as solid waste disposal. These staff experts are needed on an ongoing basis for the Council not only to act as an effective check on the mayor but also to give the council the ability to draft cogent legislation.