It is no secret that most New Yorkers are concerned about the quantity of trash bags on city streets for growing periods of time, and the pests and problems they bring. As a result, REBNY was pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), the City Council, and other stakeholders on the rules being proposed today to identify opportunities to decrease the amount of time trash is on the streets.
For residential waste, the proposed rule would require that buildings could place solid waste and recyclables on the curb for collection by DSNY no earlier than 6:00 p.m. on the day before their scheduled collection, provided such materials are placed out in lidded receptacles. Those residential buildings using bags would be allowed to place their materials out at the curb for collection by DSNY no earlier than 8:00 p.m. on the day before their scheduled collection. DSNY also proposes to create an enrollment-based Multiunit Building Collection Program for multiple dwellings that contain nine or more dwelling units. This program will allow approved buildings with on-site maintenance or janitorial staff to opt to set out waste for collection between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. on the day of collection, rather than after 6:00 p.m. (if in a container with a lid) or 8:00 p.m. the night before collection.
For commercial waste, current DSNY rules allow commercial establishments to set out solid waste and recycling one hour before closing or two hours before a scheduled collection. Under the proposed rules, waste may be placed out for collection within one hour of closing, provided that the scheduled collection occurs before the establishment next reopens for business and only if such materials are placed out for collection in receptacles with tight-fitting lids. Those establishments that place materials out for collection in bags, regardless of the time they close, may place such materials at the curb no earlier than 8:00 p.m. The proposed rules would not apply to buildings that utilize containerized or off-street collection, including collections that take place in a loading dock.
REBNY appreciates that DSNY’s proposed rules allow for multiple options for both residential and commercial owners, managers, and businesses. In doing so, DSNY shows that they understand the reality that no two buildings or businesses are alike. Allowing for multiple ways towards compliance is a necessity for any successful regime. With this said, REBNY believes that even with options, these rules will nonetheless disrupt building operations and businesses. DSNY must account for these impacts going forward for this program to be successful.
The most significant challenge buildings and businesses will face in complying with the proposed rule is adjusting their labor force to accommodate these new set-out times. Specifically, these new rules will require changes to be made to the schedules of the workers (porters) who bring trash and recycling to the street. To accommodate this change, some buildings may then need to either hire additional staff or adjust the work hours of other staff members at the building to ensure that an appropriate number of staff persons are available to put out trash and recycling at these new times.
All these changes will result in higher operating costs for the building. This is true not just for large, unionized buildings where managing waste and recycling is a full-time job for several workers, but also for smaller rentals, cooperatives, and condominiums. Indeed, it is these types of buildings that could face the most significant compliance challenges as they may have fewer staff and will be most sensitive to the cost impacts that result from amending workers’ schedules and building operations. While the proposed Multiunit Building Collection Program option will help address this issue in some buildings, this program should not be perceived as a panacea.
As these reforms are implemented, DSNY should prioritize helping owners make better use of containers. As in many cities throughout the world, increased containerization is a natural solution to the problems New York City experiences by having trash bags placed directly on our streets. For smaller buildings and storefronts, containers can provide additional flexibility as proposed in the rules. However, without the DSNY and other City agencies providing the ability for containers to be utilized effectively, success could be hampered. For many buildings, the purchasing of enough containers to accommodate the entirety of a building could be costly. In addition, finding room to store containers and/or to place them on the street or sidewalk, many of which are already being utilized for parking, outdoor dining, or other uses, could be challenging until DSNY or DOT works to establish space that can be utilized for this purpose. REBNY encourages DSNY to help more buildings adopt this type of system through greater outreach and support.
Lastly, REBNY encourages DSNY to do all it can to educate and support buildings as they work to meet compliance prior to penalties becoming commonplace. Regardless of the size and circumstance of a building, particularly residential buildings, it would behoove DSNY to understand the challenges that will arise surrounding these new rules and identify solutions to best address them. REBNY looks forward to supporting DSNY in this effort.
Thank you for your consideration of these points.