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Transitioning New York City to an efficient, exclusive high-diversion commercial waste zone (CWZ) system will avoid up to 2 million tons of climate altering emissions per year, equivalent to removing one in five cars from New York City streets. 

A new report by the Transform Don’t Trash NYC coalition comes as the City Council considers legislation to create an exclusive commercial waste zone system and finds that the new law would result in huge greenhouse gas reductions, making this one of the most important climate initiatives City lawmakers will decide on this year:  

  • An exclusive system, with a single hauler per zone, and rigorous waste reductions targets for each zone would allow New York City to achieve these large cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Less than 25% of NYC’s commercial waste is recycled or composted now, far lower than in cities with exclusive waste zones like Seattle, San Jose, and San Francisco; Seattle achieved a 65% commercial recycling rate in 2017. 
  • Compared to the current, grossly inefficient commercial waste system, a CWZ system will save 18 million diesel truck miles a year, or 37 trips to the moon and back. 
  • Recycling and composting create far more jobs than landfilling, and a robust CWZ system can create hundreds of high-quality green jobs in the NYC area while also ensuring that edible food and other goods find their way to New Yorkers who will benefit from them.

The Commercial Waste Zone bill, Intro 1574, would also enable haulers and customers to reduce and recycle far more waste cost-effectively. The report cites the city’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the plan and estimates that this efficiency would save $23 million in annual operational costs, compared to an open-market “No Action” scenario — enabling haulers to provide better waste diversion services while avoiding major increases in customer costs.

The Transform Don’t Trash NYC coalition is dedicated to transforming New York City’s commercial trash industry to reduce waste and pollution, foster clean and healthy communities for all New Yorkers, and create good jobs. Members include ALIGN, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Joint Council 16 & Locals 813, 831 (the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association), 125, 210, 445, 456, 553, and 812, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest.