Thursday, March 09, 2006

Observations on Trash

The New York Observer has joined the NY Times in editorially supporting the mayor's SWMP. In giving its support to the plan the Observer talks about the mayor's "long-term vision to resolve the city's solid waste crisis."

Once again we are forced to remind people that a siting plan for garbage hauling is not a long-term vision by any definition. What is long term is for the city to figure out how to manage its trash without a heavy reliance on a truck-to-landfill methodology. The use of marine barges only solves a small part of this unhealthy reliance.

As far as the current SWMP is concerned no one has really put any long-term financial projections together to estimate what the export methodology will cost as landfill space dwindles. In addition, we haven't seen a real good cost estimate of the city's proposal to build all of these new marine transfer stations.

And what about commercial waste? How will the city get the private carters to dump at 59th Street if these companies have their own transfer station facilities? Will the city look to mandate this through some kind of flow control that will undoubtedly be litigated?

Our big fear in all of this is that the city's commercial sector will be held hostage to the public sector and, with a city-owned site mandated, local businesses will be forced to pay through the nose to get rid of their garbage (payments that the city will use to subsidize the residential disposal).

So once again we are left with a garbage disposal plan that isn't a plan, one that has no concept of waste reduction or long-term costs for that matter. No one at the City Council, however, has stepped up to address the SWMP's shortfalls. If it is only about siting, then by all means pass the mayor's plan. Just don't call it a "long-term vision."