Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Garbage Canned

As expected the city's largest private waste hauler was struck last night by workers from Local 813 of the Teamsters union. The strike focuses attention on the commercial waste sector and its 13,000 daily tons of trash that, along with the city's roughly 12,000 tons of residential waste, must find a home in some out-of-state landfill.

As we have pointed out the strike highlights the extent to which the commercial sector has become dependent on a garbage duopoly and this concentration hasn't been good for the city's neighborhood retailers. When former mayor Guiliani, amidst much media fanfare, set up his Trade Waste Commission there was much talk about how the racket-buster had eliminated a $500 million a year "mob tax."

Thanks but no thanks Rudy. Since this relief was given to the city's businesses the cost of garbage collection has more than doubled for food stores and restaurants, making retailers nostalgic for the bad old days. This situation has been exacerbated by the city's opposition to the introduction of commercial food waste disposers.

What's missing, however, is the city's own dependence on the new garbage cartel, something that the DSNY commercial waste study itself points out. As long as we are exporting to landfills, and this is the only mindset of our contracting companies that own these dumps, we can expect an everlasting escalation of the cost of trash removal.

This is precisely why we need to begin to develop the kind of alternative waste reduction strategies that actually have the real world potential to be effective. The suggestions of folks who have never spent a single day in the private sector, let alone in an actual waste hauling business, amount to little more than pie in the sky approaches that would, if ever implemented, either not work or be exorbitantly expensive.

Intro 133 is the most cost-effective and environmentally sound method available to reduce commercial waste and free local retailers from the grip of the garbage behemoths. If implemented properly on the residential side, disposers would dramatically reduce waste along with our city's dependence on garbage export.