Good afternoon. My name is Joanne Derwin and I am the Co-Project Director of Urban Agenda, a joint research and policy initiative of the NYC Central Labor Council and Queens College Labor Resource Center. Urban Agenda is spearheading NYC Apollo, a growing coalition of labor unions, business leaders, environmental justice advocates, and educators convened to optimize energy usage in a way that creates jobs, revitalizes underserved communities, and improves our environment. Thank you for allowing me to testify before you today.
NYC Apollo recently launched its Ten Point Plan for a Strong Economy and a Healthy City where zero waste was identified as a key component of a “green collar” job creation strategy. By reusing, remanufacturing, and recycling existing materials, a zero waste policy would spur a new green manufacturing sector and prime the pump for a generation of family sustaining jobs. The Community Service Society’s report that approximately 50 percent of African American men in New York City are unemployed underscores the need to develop a comprehensive job creation strategy and effective, targeted job training programs.
Not only does zero waste create jobs it allows our city to remain competitive. Shipping trash to landfills outside of New York has become increasingly more expensive with the per-ton contract for shipping garbage now at $74 from $54 in 1997, a 40 percent increase. As demonstrated by the city’s contract with Visy Industries, reducing waste creates jobs and provides revenue. When Visy won a large city paper-recycling contract they built a recycling plant on Staten Island and now pay the city $7 a ton for paper which translates to $11 million in savings for New York City taxpayers. The efficacy of a zero waste policy and the potential for green collar jobs is also demonstrated by the recycling facility planned by Hugo Neu in Brooklyn which will be built at no cost to the city and will save an estimated $20 million annually. The plant has won the approval of community and environmental groups because it integrates smart agricultural design and will transport over 90 percent of the recyclable material by barges, which will limit congestion and pollution.
Shipping by barge greatly reduced environmental burdens on NYC. Environmental Defense found that 80 percent of the waste handled by private waste transfer stations goes to four of the city’s 59 community board districts. Asthma rates skyrocketed in areas where the stations were concentrated, a health effect linked directly to the garbage truck traffic.
Lastly, I would encourage the Council to engage NYC sanitation workers in order to gain their valuable firsthand experiences and insights. As our frontline workers their perspective is critical and often overlooked.
Urban Agenda and NYC Apollo look forward to working with the Council on Intro 70 and other legislation and demonstration programs that support zero waste as well as other initiatives that strengthen our city’s economy and health.