Friday, May 30, 2008

Reducing Supermarket Operating Costs

In all of our discussions about the disappearance of so many of our local supermarkets, the one major point we have emphasized is the high cost of doing business in NYC-from real estate taxes and burdensome regulations, to high rents and attendant operating costs. One of these high costs is the disposal of supermarket waste.

Since the rules on garbage disposal were changed in 2003, the private carters are able to charge higher fees for "wet waste," the produce and vegetable matter that weighs more to truck away and dispose of in landfills. That the city wants us all to consume more of this produce-adding to the market costs-only adds to the irony of the situation.

There is, however, a realistic alternative to this disposal problem: the use of food waste disposers. That's why the Alliance had been promoting Intro 133, a bill that would legalize disposers in a pilot program designed to determine their effectiveness, as well as their impact on the waste water treatment facilities. The bill was derailed by the mayor and the speaker in a deal that they struck on the city's SWMP.

As we pointed out at the time, the deal ignored the fact that the use of disposers could save the supermarket industry millions of dollars in disposal costs-while the so-called environmental activists railed against having the "public" subsidize local business. Now it appears that folks are beginning to realize that regulatory restrictions have some very real world consequences.

This is brought home even more so by the fact that the carters continue to lobby for more rate hikes, rising fees that will bring back the nostalgic "mob tax. " Neighborhood supermarkets would be able to save tens of thousands of dollars every year if allowed the use of food waste disposers, and if not, the fee escalation will simply add to the burdensome operating costs. The use of food waste disposers would cut supermarket disposal cost by over 90%!

To allow their use would be a good step in the direction of creating a good business climate for what has now become known as a vital retail sector. It would be good for both the business climate as well as for the health of the city's neighborhoods-as wet waste that attracts vemin no longer would be stored where food is prepared and sold. Clearly, an idea whose time has come.