Trash collection overhaul for New York City after pedestrian deaths

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a law Wednesday that will overhaul the city's commercial trash collection industry.

It is an attempt to crack down on the number of trucks on city streets following the deaths of pedestrians and is part of the Vision Zero road safety initiative and New York City's Green New Deal.

The legislation divides the city into at least 20 zones with up to three private carters selected through a bidding process to serve each zone.

The intent is to cut the amount of truck traffic in half, reducing the environmental impacts and dangers of trash pickups.

The reforms were spurred by two deaths within six months under the wheels of a single company, Sanitation Salvage, which is now out of business.

"Today's bill signing doesn't just mark a new day for commercial waste hauling, it's a new day for New York's Green New Deal, showing that we can create good-paying jobs while drastically reducing pollution and emissions," de Blasio said. "It's a new day for working people, many of whom are immigrants chasing the American dream, ending the race to the bottom that has led to low labor standards and poor wages. It's a new day for safety on our streets, whether you're on the truck or biking next to it. And it's a new day for New York City."

While the Department of Sanitation collects trash and recycling from residents, more than 90 different private carters have crisscrossed the city each night for decades to service the city's 100,000 commercial businesses.

De Blasio said this system has created myriad issues for New Yorkers, whether creating public health hazards and a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, creating a race to the bottom of poor labor standards, or creating public safety risks for cyclists, pedestrians, and workers alike.

Since 2010, 28 New Yorkers have been killed by private carters.

Supporters say the Commercial Waste Zones program will dramatically improve safety and working conditions for workers in this industry.

The law imposes training requirements for drivers, helpers and other commercial waste employees, and calls for the creation of a Safety Task Force to make recommendations on further steps to protect the safety of workers and the public.

It also establishes a displaced worker list, promotes local hiring and includes protections for employees of certain companies undergoing merger or acquisition.

The law also requires that selected haulers provide recycling and organics collection at a discount to incentivize waste diversion, promotes the use of low-emission or zero emission collection trucks, and incentivizes the use of transfer stations that use rail or barge transport or are located near the designated zones.

The city will begin implementation, starting with formally defining the geographical boundaries of the zones. Next year, DSNY will release a request for proposals from interested and qualified waste haulers, which will be evaluated on the basis of several factors outlined in the law.

DSNY expects to begin a multi-year customer transition process in 2021.

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