On Monday November 5th, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer released a fiery new report, entitled Unsafe Sanitation: An Analysis of the Commercial Waste Industry’s Safety Record. The study surveys the safety inspection and traffic records for the commercial garbage industry. The results highlight a string of unsafe conditions including trucks that are past their prime, failed vehicle inspections, as well as red light and traffic violations among 273 commercial waste haulers, suggesting a public safety concern. “There must be a comprehensive and transformative solution to fix the commercial waste industry. Commercial garbage trucks are overrunning our communities, choking the air with smog and endangering our families,” said Comptroller Stringer. “We need a zoned system that prioritizes higher safety and wage standards for workers and will hold commercial waste companies accountable to those standards.”
The report, which is on the Comptroller’s website, highlights multiple safety and sanitary concerns. The average commercial waste truck is more than nine years old, in contrast to the City’s Department of Sanitation trucks which are on average 5.9 years old. The “rear end loader” trucks, which are used to pick up curbside trash were found to be well older than the average. Among the top 20 commercial waste haulers, two-thirds of random, roadside safety inspections resulted in at least one violation in the last two years. Even more concerning, 20 percent of those random inspections resulted in five or more violations. The most common violation was defective truck brakes. Disturbingly, in the the past two years, the top 20 licensed commercial waste haulers in NYC were involved in 73 serious collisions, resulting in five casualties.
As per the report, Stringer continues to support a zoned collection system, in which the municipal would establish zones (or assigned areas) and then set exclusive contracts with haulers for each zone. Zoned collection systems have become a heavily debated topic in large cities such as New York and Los Angeles. Mayor de Blasio first proposed the plan for NYC in 2016. Proponents argue that giving the municipals the reigns, would mean that they can choose haulers who agree to terms such as utilizing newer and more clean-fuel trucks for collection services. Further they maintain that long-term contracts with haulers would provide those companies with the incentive to invest in their trucks, ultimately reducing common road wear. The proposed system may also reduce traffic due to the more effective and efficient collection routes inherent to a zoned area for collection. Opponents to the plan say that this type of system would remove the industry’s longtime open-market system in which businesses choose their own haulers, and would decrease competition and ultimately lead to higher prices.
By: Ellen Cans
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