February 16, 2015
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—It’s not as popular as calls for wealth redistribution, but garbage redistribution is nonetheless a major issue that a variety of groups including environmental and labor called on the city to do on a frigid day on City Hall’s steps.
The New York City Council, led by Councilmember Antonio Reynoso, who is chairman of the Council’s Sanitation Committee, wants to provide relief for three communities—North Brooklyn, the South Bronx and Southeast Queens—from receiving the bulk of the city’s garbage via truck before being shipped out for disposal.
Councilmember Reynoso said at the press conference, before heading into the Council to lead a hearing on the issue, that he would be introducing new legislation that would require the city to transfer garbage more equitably among different communities so that no one community is being overburdened.
“My community currently processes 36 percent of the city’s waste. Between us and the South Bronx and Southeast Queens we process 75 percent of the city’s waste. A recent study shows that 50 percent of the trucks traversing our communities’ streets are waste trucks. This is an outdated system and we need to fix it now in the name of environmental justice,” said Reynoso. "My bill, Intro., 495, seeks to address this issue by lowering permanent capacity for waste processing in the three overburdened communities. The 18 percent cut in each district, which is applied district-wide and not necessarily to every [waste transfer] station, is intended to make a real impact on the amount of trucks on our streets. It also implements a five percent cap on processing capacity in other districts so that we’re not just shifting the burden from one low-income community to another.”
In the accompanying video, we interviewed Sean Campbell, president of Teamsters Local 813 whose 2,000-member local transfers much of the waste the city produces. We first joked about, being near the steps of City Hall, how some heads of the De Blasio administration might roll because the city lost to Philadelphia to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
We asked Mr. Campbell why it was important for him and his members to be at Friday’s presser.
“The reason why Local 813 supports this bill is because first and foremost is because the members I represent also live and work in these neighborhoods. I watched for many years my friends and even my mom contract cancer and asthma from all this truck traffic. We support this bill because it would equitably distribute the garbage to every borough, as it should be,” said Campbell.