Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Garbage In, Garbage Not Out

As the NY Post reported yesterday, the cost of disposing NYC's garbage is escalating: "Garbage costs are piling up. Moving trash from a Brooklyn transfer station to other states via rail instead of traditional garbage trucks costs $134 per ton -- up from $85 per ton last year, according to the city's Independent Budget Office."

So what should the city do? Why recycle more, of course: "So the city should consider more recycling, says IBO Chief of Staff Doug Turetsky. "While it has cost more to collect and dispose of a ton of recyclables than a ton of trash, the difference is narrowing as the cost of exporting garbage to landfills and incinerators outside the city rises," Turetsky said."

To which we say, Duh! But what has Mike's Marauders actually done in this regard. We recall fondly that when the city passed its SWMP the mayor called the waste disposal blueprint, "groundbreaking." Here's what we said four years ago when all of this breathless rhetoric was being used: "As part of the Mayor’s Solid Waste Management Program he is required to address how to increase the level of recycling. In the DOS report the administration’s proposals are called “groundbreaking” (bottom of page two) but in reality they are anything but. Aside from the usual refuge of the clueless: “better education,” there is absolutely nothing said on how to enhance recycling activity. In fact, the only way these proposals could be called groundbreaking is if the mayor is digging with a plastic spoon."

The one breakthrough of this administration is the so-called fair share initiative, the one where, although no real garbage reduction has been accomplished, everyone gets to experience the pain on a more or less equal basis. So instead of pain reduction-through real recycling diversion-we get the Gansevoort Recycling Center on Manhattan's West Side. As the mayor's court historian put it last year: "The plan represented Bloomberg's answer to the looming trash crisis he inherited after then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani closed the massive Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island. "This is a legacy project for the mayor," Deputy Mayor for Operations Edward Skyler told The Post. "We're fundamentally handling the way the city handles its garbage, to deal with it an environmentally friendly way and not pit communities against each other."

Not a word on waste reduction-or how many more tons these geniuses have diverted; so, four years later, we get the IBO's sage advice: the city should recycle some more. And not one word on organic waste, and for good reason, since there is no diversion plan for this expensive-to -dispose waste.

Which brings us to the private sector, and the DEP's sandbagging of the pilot program to permit food waste disposers at the city's supermarkets and restaurants. As we said earlier this year: "It appears that the vaunted DEP study of the impact of commercial food waste disposers has been completed-although the agency has been quite reticent at trumpeting the results. Luckily, we have gotten some advanced news on the study's details. They are, as we predicted, almost three years ago, totally unremarkable in their self serving dishonesty. The $1million study "found" that fwds would have a "cataclysmic" impact on the sewer system; even though it did survey ten other cities were the technology is permitted, and no such dire impacts have ever been found."

So, with disposal costs escalating for both the public and the private sectors, the one methodology available that could divert thousands of tons a day-and save millions for both sectors-is abjured by stone stupid bureaucrats at the city's most dysfunctional agency. Yet this is the agency whose wisdom we're going to swallow whole?

And in the process, an innovative technology that could reduce operating costs for thousands of local businesses is thrown in the ash heap; while the mayor babbles on about his five borough economic development plan. How absolutely pathetic!