2002-08-08 / From The Mayor...

From The Mayor’s Desk...

An Economically and Environmentally Sound Trash Plan

From The Mayor’s Desk...

An Economically and Environmentally Sound Trash Plan

Last year, the City finally closed the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, which has unfairly burdened the people of Staten Island for decades. Unfortunately, the interim plan for disposing of our solid waste has serious environmental and economic downsides, and it’s urgent that we correct them.

Currently, the Department of Sanitation trucks most of the nearly 14,000 tons of solid waste it collects each day to landfills in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia. The heavy trucks used for that job tear up city streets and highways and pollute the air with diesel exhaust, a main culprit in the asthma and other respiratory diseases that afflict too many New Yorkers. Those long truck trips are also very expensive. Furthermore, the fees we pay to landfills for taking our garbage have doubled over the last five years. The bottom line is it now costs nearly a billion dollars to collect and dispose of New York City’s solid waste. If we do nothing, the costs will just keep mounting, and we cannot afford that.

That’s why I announced a new solid waste management plan for New York City. It’s one that will cut pollution and that will also give us more options for disposing of our trash, which should help blunt any more increases in waste disposal costs. And, my plan will keep Fresh Kills Landfill closed.

The key to this plan is containerizing refuse at the City’s marine transfer stations. Those are the waterfront collection points in four of the five boroughs where trash used to be loaded onto barges. At the marine transfer stations—the eight existing stations and a new one—trash will be compacted and sealed into 20-ton containers that will then be shipped out by barge. This containerized waste can then be off-loaded from the barges onto trucks, trains or ocean-going vessels, and transported to any landfill—anywhere—that wants to take it. It should take about two years to get our new plan operational.

Containerizing will permit us to take advantage of New York’s remarkable system of waterways, reducing traffic congestion and air pollution. It will decrease the manual labor involved in handling our trash—which is a long-term cost-cutter. It won’t unfairly burden any one borough with the job of dealing with the City’s trash. Additionally, it will end New York City’s current dependency on a limited number of out-of-state landfill operators—a dependency that makes us vulnerable to hikes in dumping fees and taxes we have no control over. Instead, we will be in charge of our own future.

Picking up and disposing of garbage is one of the most essential services that your City government provides. The plan we’ve developed will do that job in an economically and environmentally responsible way for years to come—and that’s a great legacy to leave future New Yorkers.

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