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PR- 254-06
July 19, 2006


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, and Sanitation & Solid Waste Management Committee Chair Michael McMahon today hailed the passage of a landmark plan – decades in the making – that will fundamentally change the way the City transports waste and put the City on strong footing for future growth.  The plan, which addresses both residential and commercial waste, as well as waste prevention and recycling, has three main goals: environmental responsibility; economic soundness; and equitability across all five boroughs. It will be fully operational by 2009.

“Today’s vote is the culmination of years of work to achieve cleaner air, far fewer trucks on the road, and more recycling,” Mayor Bloomberg said.  “Mayor LaGuardia famously said that there is no Republican or Democratic was to clean the streets, but the truth is that for generations our City has failed to fulfill a fundamental government function – getting rid of the trash in a way that was as fair, equitable, and efficient as possible.  Today, that goal is within reach, and by the year 2009, every one us of will be benefiting from the plan passed today.”

“I want to express my deep appreciation to Council Members and to the administration for the hard work that has resulted in a plan that is in the best interest of New Yorkers,” said Speaker Quinn. “By removing garbage from the City through barge and rail transport, we will dramatically reduce the negative effects of truck traffic on our neighborhoods, and through a renewed emphasis on recycling, we will vastly improve reuse and reductions efforts.”

“The newly-passed Solid Waste Management Plan is great news for New Yorkers in all five boroughs,” said DSNY Commissioner John Doherty. “The plan will improve our City’s environment, and give the City a long-term, fiscally responsible solution to transporting waste. I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn, and Councilman McMahon for their leadership in solving this longstanding problem.”

“This plan is a great victory for the people of New York City and Staten Island,” said Sanitation Committee Chair Michael McMahon. “For the first time in the City's history, we have a plan that is fair to all New Yorkers and that will actually be implemented, thanks to the work of Speaker Quinn, Mayor Bloomberg, and Commissioner Doherty.”

The Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) will fundamentally change the way the City transports waste. Currently, DSNY trucks and private tractor trailers export about 84 percent of the City’s residential garbage – which totals 12,000 tons a day. Under the new plan, Sanitation trucks will be used to export only 13 percent, while the use of long-haul tractor-trailer trucks will be eliminated entirely. Instead, the City will export almost 90 percent of the City’s residential waste by barge or rail.

Under the SWMP, New York City will build four new Marine Transfer Stations (MTS). Barges will carry containerized waste from Sanitation trucks to an inter-modal facility. The barges will be transferred to a rail car or a sea-faring barge and sent to an out-of-state waste disposal facility. In addition, the plan will make use of up to six privately-owned rail transfer stations in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Together, the rail and marine transfer stations will handle nearly all of the City’s residential waste, and the Department of Sanitation will also make its best effort to attract commercial waste haulers to its new marine transfer stations.  

As a result, Sanitation trucks will travel about 2.7 million fewer miles per year, and travel by tractor-trailer trucks will be reduced by 3 million miles per year. The Departments of Sanitation and Transportation will also conduct a study identifying practical and cost-effective ways to reduce the impact of transfer station truck traffic on communities. In addition, the four new Marine Transfer Stations will include state-of-the-art environmental controls, as well as an advanced odor–neutralization system.

To be economically responsible, the plan includes a long-term strategy to deal with the rising cost of trucking the City’s garbage out-of-state. Over the long run, the plan will put the City in a more secure financial position because both the transfer and transportation costs will become more stable and predictable.  Transfer stations currently used by the City are privately owned and operated, which leaves the City susceptible to significant future cost increases. By building four new transfer sites that will be owned and operated by the Department of Sanitation, the City will be able to control costs and guard against potential spikes by signing 20 year contracts with private companies. By moving to a barge and rail system, the City will be able to transport trash longer distances more economically than by truck. This capability will provide the City with access to waste disposal locations that are less expensive than those the City currently is forced to rely on.

The SWMP will also achieve greater equity among the five boroughs. For many years, Staten Island was forced to accept most of the City’s trash. When the Fresh Kills landfill was closed, the City had little choice but to truck most garbage out of the City – and that put new burdens on other communities, particularly in North Brooklyn, the South Bronx, and Southeast Queens, where most of the City’s private transfer stations are located. Under the plan passed today, the great bulk of waste generated in a borough will be taken to a transfer station in that same borough. The quality of life – and air – in neighborhoods throughout the City will improve.

The plan passed today also calls for the formation of Community Advisory Groups in districts where Marine Transfer Stations will be converted. The Advisory Group will have a voice in the development, construction, and operation of the converted transfer stations.

The new Solid Waste Management Plan also includes a new and ambitious recycling plan. The City will soon enter into a 20-year contract with Sims Hugo Neu to process metal, glass, plastic, and some paper. The long-term structure of the deal will allow the company to invest in a modern recycling plant in Sunset Park that will continue to make recycling far more economical than before.  The SWMP also creates new pilot programs to place recycling receptacles in public places and to collect yard waste in the spring; an expanded composting program; expanded recycling outreach, and numerous studies intended to help the City reduce waste and expand its recycling capacity.

Furthermore, the plan will bring 100 jobs to the Brooklyn waterfront, allow the City to explore new potential markets for recycled goods, and enable more ambitious goals for recycling. The recycling plan will also create a new waterborne network of transfer facilities that will accept recyclable material for shipment by barge to and from the Brooklyn plant. This will include the re-activated Gansevoort Marine Transfer Station, as well as Sims Hugo Neu’s current facilities at Hunts Point, Long Island, and Jersey City – as well as its new Sunset Park facility.

The overwhelming majority of inbound and outbound recyclable material will be transported by barge, which will save the Sanitation Department 55,000 miles of travel per year.

 “I want to thank Speaker Quinn for having the courage to show real leadership on this issue, as well as all the members of the Council who put the future of all New Yorkers first. I would also like to thank our Solid Waste Management Task Force, and its leaders, Deputy Mayor Skyler and, before him, my former Chief of Staff, Peter Madonia. Finally, we would not be here without the firm support of many environmental groups, particularly the League of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense, and the Organization of Waterfront Neighborhoods,” Mayor Bloomberg concluded.


Stu Loeser   (212) 788-2958


Vito Turso   (Sanitation Department)
(646) 885-5020

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