Legislation intended to bring equitable distribution of the City’s trash was introduced by North Brooklyn City Council members Antonio Reynoso and Steve Levin on Tuesday.
For years, the Councilmembers, along with environmental activists and residents of Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Bushwick have campaigned to reduce the undue burden of waste that is currently being processed in North Brooklyn.
The new bill asks that greater responsibility be taken on by individual neighborhoods, throughout the city, to prevent the concentration in just a few areas.
“For communities like the one I represent, there is no truth to the saying, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,’” said Levin. “North Brooklyn, the South Bronx, and Southeast Queens have been forced to bear the burden of the majority of the City’s waste for too long and have only suffered its consequences.”
The bill builds on promises laid down by the City in its Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) to equitably distribute waste between all five boroughs.
Eight years later, that plan has yet to take any concrete shape.
Instead, North Brooklyn has over 15 waste transfer stations, processes about 7,000 tons of garbage each day, and has to accommodate 1,500 trash-filled truck trips daily as well.
Waste processed in North Brooklyn accounts for almost 30 percent of the trash processed in the entire city. And together with South Bronx and Southeast Queens, that number goes up to 70 percent.
Elected represents from each of those areas have argued about the unfair burden being placed on communities with large low-income populations and people of color.
“My community in North Brooklyn, and other communities of color in Southeast Queens and the South Bronx have been suffering the effects of high concentrations of waste transfer stations for too long,” said Reynoso. “Our children have asthma and other associated health problems, and our streets are dangerous and in disrepair.”
The new legislation calls for a cap on the waste processed in each neighborhood. It asks for waste management to be reduced by 18 percent in each of the three overburdened neighborhoods and states that no neighborhood should process more than five percent of the total citywide trash produced. The reductions are meant to coincide with the city’s operation of marine transfer stations, and to follow through on SWMP’s goal of reducing truck pollution, and saving costs on transportation.
“Enough is enough,” said Rolando Guzman, an organizer with the Organization United for Trash Reduction and Garbage Equity (OUTRAGE), which has long-pushed for the implementation of SWMP. “It is the time for environmental justice and a cap on waste capacity to ensure that low income communities in New York City are not forced to process large amounts of waste.”
The bill failed to pass in the last session, but Councilmembers are hopeful for its passage this time around. Even if passed, however, the effects of the bill will only begin to take effect in early 2017.