REBNY appreciates that the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management and the Committee on Small Businesses are holding this joint hearing to update the public on with the current state of the Commercial Waste Zone Program, which is much needed. REBNY has also provided brief comments on Intro. 933, which would establish a Commercial Waste Zone Working Group.
Commercial Waste Zone Program Oversight
REBNY has been actively involved in the development of the Commercial Waste Zone Program since inception, providing input from some of the biggest customers who will be impacted by this effort. All along, REBNY has sought to assure that this program can be effective in meeting its many goals, including safer streets and less air pollution from commercial waste trucks, while keeping customer prices down and quality of service high. All of these factors are vital to creating a healthier and more vibrant city.
There have been significant changes to the commercial waste landscape since the plan was first unveiled. First, the commercial waste industry has undergone much adjustment. In addition, the pandemic continues to alter the way office space is used, with many workers spending at least some of their time working from home. Obviously, this will mean less commercial waste coming out of many buildings. We are interested to hear how the Department of Sanitation might adjust its plans accordingly.
REBNY is also aware that this program has been delayed again in recent months. As such, we are eager to understand the causes of this delay, how those causes will be remedied, and what the new schedule for implementation is. We appreciate that this effort is extremely complicated, and support a delay that is in service of ensuring the program is right, instead of rushing forward and getting it wrong. Therefore, we once again thank these two committees for taking on this topic.
This bill would establish a working group of no more than 20 members selected by the Mayor and the City Council Speaker to study the implementation of the Commercial Waste Zone Program. The group would make recommendations on how to best meet the goals of the program, including a reduction in pollution and impacts to customers.
The bill specifies the qualifications or backgrounds of most of the 20 appointees, including carters, environmental justice advocates, and agency staff, among others. A major group that is not guaranteed to be on the working group are consumers from throughout the City who will be directly impacted by commercial waste zones. We believe that the working group should be expanded to include at least 5 professionals from the commercial buildings and business perspective, who will best understand and advise on how policies can impact the customer base.
As an organization that has been heavily involved in this effort throughout, REBNY would like to serve on the working group. We look forward to working with Sponsor Nurse, the two committees, and the Council and Administration on this matter.
Thank you once again for the opportunity to submit this testimony.