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PR- 265-04
October 7, 2004


City to Utilize Waterborne Network to Transport Waste - New Strategies for Recycling and Commercial Refuse

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner John J. Doherty unveiled New York City's Solid Waste Management Plan.  The plan creates a long-term structure for transporting the City's residential and commercial waste as well as recycling. By using a waterborne network to transport the City's refuse it will reduce the number of private hauler truck trips by nearly 200,000 per year and eliminate truck miles by nearly three million each year.  The plan establishes a cost-effective, reliable, and environmentally sound system for managing the City's waste for the next 20 years. The Mayor was joined by Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Council Member Michael E. McMahon, Economic Development Corporation President Andrew Alper and advocates at the announcement in the Blue Room at City Hall.

"Solid waste management is one of our City's most important services and greatest challenges," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We have crafted a Solid Waste Management Plan that addresses all aspects of refuse removal in our City.  This plan stabilizes and improves our recycling program, mitigates the impact of commercial carting on communities that contain transfer stations and retrofits existing Marine Transfer Stations, allowing them to containerize trash on site and ship it out by barge.  The plan reduces the number of private waste haulers' truck trips by more than 600 each day and eliminates nearly three million Department of Sanitation truck-miles on our City's streets and highways each year. We have built increased flexibility into this plan by utilizing existing resources that will speed up the plan's implementation and lessen our reliance on any single disposal method or market.  I want to thank Commissioner Doherty and the members of the Solid Waste Task Force for their hard work in developing this plan."

"The new comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan represents an important step as the City continues to develop a viable system of managing our solid waste over the next 20 years," said Commissioner Doherty.  "The plan takes a comprehensive view of ways to reduce, reuse and recycle solid waste.  It commits to long-term processing for our recyclables and establishes a system for long-term export of Department-managed residential waste from City-owned MTSs or privately owned facilities. Finally the plan is designed to enable DSNY to continue to provide a high level of service to City residents, and I am pleased that all parties have worked together so diligently to ensure the safe and efficient management of our City's solid waste."

The plan is built around eight principles that seek to rationalize and streamline waste disposal while protecting New York's environment and neighborhoods.   The eight principles are as follows:

  • Environmental Protection: This plan aims to dramatically reduce the number of trucks and truck miles resulting from waste export and to address the traffic, air and noise issues that result from the current truck-based system.  

  • Fairness: This plan recognizes that - for both commercial waste and DSNY-managed waste - responsibility for the City's waste management system should be allocated equitably throughout the City.

  • Efficiency: This plan uses commercial competition, long-term contracts and containerization technology to control costs, leverage private investment and ensure efficiency for the system as a whole.

  • Realism: This plan recognizes the need to move swiftly and takes advantage of existing public and private infrastructure where possible.

  • Innovation: Although committed to a plan that can be implemented today, the City recognizes that future developments in technology could significantly enhance the management of solid waste.  The plan outlines a number of studies and pilot projects that will provide the foundation to modify or improve waste disposal over the next two decades.  

  • Reliability:  The management of waste is critical to the City's physical health and economy.  The system needs the flexibility to deal with day-to-day and seasonal changes in waste composition and volume, and must have the required redundancy should one or more of the system's components fail. 

  • Collaboration: This plan has benefited from input from community groups, elected officials, environmental advocates and the private sector; and the plan anticipates continued participation from stakeholders through its implementation.   

  • Service: DSNY currently provides a high level of service to the City's residents. This plan must enable DSNY to maintain or improve current service levels.


Last month the Mayor presented a long-term, economically viable plan for New York City's recyclables that will dramatically reduce truck traffic on City streets.  The plan calls for the private sector to build a modern recycling facility with the understanding that the City will commit to deliver all of the metal, glass and plastic, and a portion of the mixed paper that the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) currently collects through its residential curbside recycling program for the next 20 years.  The plan will stabilize New York's recycling program and will help to increase recycling and significantly lower the cost of the City's program.

Commercial Waste

The administration has also outlined a comprehensive and coordinated plan that - for the first time - addresses issues related to commercial waste transport in the City.  The plan has three major objectives: improving conditions at and around existing commercial transfer stations, encouraging commercial haulers to use barge and rail for exporting waste by utilizing excess capacity at Marine Transfer Stations (MTS) and reserving the 59th Street Manhattan MTS for commercial waste and protecting communities that house large numbers of commercial waste transfer stations by capping the capacity of transfer stations in high-impact neighborhoods like Greenpoint-Williamsburg and the South Bronx.

Residential Waste Management

In July of 2002, Mayor Bloomberg announced a plan to establish a system that would take advantage of the City's waterways and existing infrastructure.  The plan called for the physical conversion of the City's MTS network, to enable waste to be containerized on site, making it suitable for long-haul disposal by barge or rail.  The long-term export plan outlined here builds on the previously announced plan, ensuring that the primary goals of the original plan are met, but offering an expedited timeframe, a lower cost and reduced reliance on the complex facility conversions outlined initially.  At its heart are the two main principles of the Mayor's earlier plan: the containerization of waste and the long-distance export of that waste in containers by barge or rail. 

The improvements outlined here stem largely from the identification of existing private infrastructure to be used in lieu of certain MTS facilities.  To evaluate the cost and feasibility of using private sites for transfer, DSNY issued Requests for Proposals (RFP) for disposal of waste from the Bronx and Greenpoint wastesheds.  These RFPs required all waste to be containerized and exported by barge or rail.  Concurrently, DSNY issued an RFP to solicit proposals on transport and disposal of containerized waste at the converted MTSs.  The City also began evaluating the possibility of relying on available capacity at nearby waste-to energy facilities.

Long-term Export Facilities and Wastesheds

  • For the Brooklyn wasteshed formerly served by the Greenpoint MTS, the City  will enter into a long-term contract with one or two private transfer stations for truck-to-rail or truck-to-barge disposal.
  • For the Brooklyn wasteshed formerly served by the Hamilton Avenue MTS, the City will convert a MTS on the same site, where waste will be received, containerized and exported by barge.
  • For the Brooklyn wasteshed formerly served by the Southwest Brooklyn MTS, the City will convert a MTS on the same site, where waste will be received, containerized and exported by barge.
  • For the entire Bronx wasteshed, the City will enter into a long-term contract with one or two private transfer stations for truck-to-rail disposal.
  • For the Manhattan wastesheds formerly served by the West 135th Street. MTS and the West 59th Street MTS, the City will enter into a long-term service agreement with the Port Authority for the use of the Essex County Resource Recovery Facility in New Jersey to receive and process waste.
  • For the Manhattan wasteshed formerly served by the East 91st Street MTS, the City will convert a MTS on the same site, where waste will be received, containerized and exported by barge.
  • For the Queens wasteshed formerly served by the Greenpoint MTS, the City will enter into a long-term contract with a private transfer station for truck-to-rail or truck-to-barge disposal.
  • For the Queens wasteshed formerly served by the North Shore MTS, the City will convert a MTS on the same site, where waste will be received, containerized and exported by barge.
Staten Island 
  • For the entire Staten Island wasteshed, the City will complete the construction of the Staten Island transfer facility to be used for receipt, containerization and truck-to-rail disposal.

For the four wastesheds that will be served by City-owned MTSs, the City will enter into 20-year service agreements with one or more private waste management companies to accept the containerized waste, transport it by rail or barge and dispose of it.

The plan also outlines additional initiatives to improve waste removal in the City by exploring new technologies and studying the waste stream.  Initiatives include the an analysis of alternative fuel technologies for waste transport, studying the viability of composting and new emerging waste management technologies such as gasification and anaerobic digestion, and updating waste composition data by undertaking a comprehensive four-season waste-characterization study. 

"This 20-year-plan process is a great opportunity for the City to finally put an equitable, economical and environmentally sound trash strategy in place," said Council Member McMahon. "To his credit, the Mayor is proposing many of the bold initiatives that the Council supports, but we have much work to do together to fully realize the promise this opportunity presents us."

"The Mayor's solid waste plan envisions a number of waterfront facilities that will maximize opportunities to move not only the City's residential waste, but its commercial waste and recyclables by water and rail rather than by truck," said James T. B. Tripp, General Counsel of Environmental Defense. "This is an exciting vision that has substantial environmental and economic benefits in terms of reducing truck congestion and air pollution in the City.  It also provides the potential for phasing out old, polluting waste transfer facilities that are concentrated now in low-income communities.  We look forward to working with the City and community groups on the implementation of this plan to assure that it is respectful of community needs."

"Based on that summary of the Solid Waste Management Plan alone, the Organization of Waterfront Neighborhoods (OWN) feels that the City has begun to address some of the critical concerns that OWN has conveyed over the last several years," said Eddie Bautista, Director of Community Planning of OWN.  "Actions described in the plan's Executive Summary support many of the proposals OWN has made for creating a more equitable and environmentally efficient system of waste management.  This includes the retrofitting of several of the City's marine transfer stations and moving towards a system that exports waste by barge and rail rather than truck.  This document indicates that, through the plan, the City is moving toward a more equitable garbage policy where each borough is largely responsible for its own waste and where neighborhoods like the South Bronx and Williamsburg-Greenpoint don't bear unfair burdens."

Nearly 50,000 tons of waste and recyclables are collected in New York City each day. DSNY collects nearly 12,000 tons of waste and recyclables using a fleet of nearly 2,000 trucks and more than 9,000 men and women. The plan will be introduced to the City Council later this month.


Edward Skyler / Jordan Barowitz   (212) 788-2958

Vito A. Turso   (DSNY)
(646) 885-5020

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