Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Garbage Deja Vu

Yesterday's City Council hearing on the city's SWMP took a very predictable course. As the NY Times points out, opponents of Manhattan transfer stations came out to inveigh against the siting of facilities on 91st Street and 14th Street. In turn, proponents of the mayor's plan accused the protestors of being insensitive to the fact that minority communities have had to put up with these stations for years.

As we have been saying all along, this is all an exquisite result of two things: the mayor's clever emphasis on "environmental justice," and the plan's failure to address any substantive proposal for waste reduction. The result is the current fight over a couple of transfer stations, and the total disavowal of the need to come up with a cost-effective waste reduction and disposal plan.

This is all kind of a Kabuki theater presentation as lawmakers debate issues that are only partially germane to dealing with the need for a less expensive and more comprehensive garbage solution. And, as David Yassky tells the Crain's In$ider this morning, "he won't vote for the plan because he believes that the Sanitation Department has not fully developed the commercial part of it."

Crain's goes on to point out that "commercial trash haulers have been lobbying against the mayor's proposal." This is because the city is looking to channel all of the commercial waste into a city-controlled 59th Street transfer station. Something that the NY Times has approved of without giving much thought to its feasibility or legality. In addition, the paper exhorts the city to recycle private waste with no clear idea just how this is supposed to get done.

All of which gets us to the essence of Intro 133. This proposal to experiment with the feasibility of legalizing commercial food waste disposers would demonstrate the dramatic potential to reduce the export of commercial waste by over 90%. Once the numbers are crunched we strongly believe that the necessity of building an expensive commercial waste station at 59th Street would be obviated. Not to mention the potential to address the public health issue that is created by the city's rat epidemic.

It will be interesting to see whether council people like Yassky, Monseratte, Garodnick, Lappin and Rivera can push the body in a positive public health and solid waste direction. If they do the current plan can have the number of transfer stations, and the amount of overall garbage exports, reduced in all neighborhoods.