November 27, 2000

To: All Council Members

From: Peter F. Vallone, Speaker

Stanley E. Michels, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection

Subject: Improvements to the Modification to the Solid Waste Management Plan


As you are aware, for some time the Council and the Administration have been negotiating on issues relating to the Proposed Modification to the Solid Waste Management Plan (Modification) that was formally submitted to the Council last month for our action. Changes are being made to the Modification that reflect concerns raised by Council Members and by many advocacy groups and members of the public in testimony before the Committee on Environmental Protection. We hope that you will vote to approve this revised modification at the November 29th Stated Meeting.

The Council first reviewed a proposed draft of the Modification in April 1998 that called for, among other things, construction of an enclosed barge unloading facility (EBUF) in the community of Red Hook in Brooklyn. We made clear to the Administration, as did others, that this was unacceptable and a proposal that the Council would not approve. We urged, instead, that the Department of Sanitation (DOS) eliminate the EBUF and focus on the use of the City’s existing marine transfer stations (MTS) and engaged a consultant to fully analyze that position. As a consequence of those activities, the Administration substantially revised the Proposed Modification to do precisely that.

However, even the revised Modification issued in May 2000 required further negotiation in a number of areas such as, recycling and waste prevention, the structure of the long-term export contracts, the commercial waste management system and enforcement of the rules governing the operation of transfer stations that process commercial waste. As a result of these negotiations, specific programs or milestones have been added to the Modification, and other obligations will be undertaken by the Administration.

The following are the additions to the Modification:

At the Council’s request DOS clarified in the Modification that although many facility types and sites were examined in the FEIS, not all of those are elements of the Plan. For example, although a modified West 135th Street MTS was evaluated, it is not part of the Plan. DOS has committed that should it seek to significantly change the amount of solid waste routinely handled at any City MTS, a plan modification would be required.

Scheduled Fiscal Year: 2001 Status: New


Scheduled Fiscal Year: 2001 Status: New


      1. recycled products or packaging made from post-consumer materials;
      2. products or packaging manufactured from recyclable materials;
      3. products, packaging or equipment that are remanufactured or reused, or
      4. products or packaging that facilitate waste prevention.

Scheduled Fiscal Year: 2001 Status: New


Scheduled Fiscal Year: 2001 Status: New


Scheduled Fiscal Year: 2001 Status: New

Scheduled Fiscal Year: 2001 Status: Ongoing


In response to the issue raised that the Modification does not address commercial waste management, the Council proposed to the Administration and has negotiated with them a bill that addresses this issue. This bill will mandate that DOS undertake a comprehensive examination of all aspects of the commercial waste management system, including environmental, public health and economic impacts, and specifies the minimum components of that study. This bill would receive a Message of Necessity from the Mayor and be passed simultaneously with legislation authorizing submission of the Modification to DEC.

This comprehensive study must examine such issues as:

- potential environmental, economic and public health impacts on communities in which transfer stations are located;

- the effectiveness of the criteria for issuing and renewing transfer station permits;

- whether current enforcement mechanisms applicable to transfer stations and private carters effectively protect the communities in which transfer stations are located;

- the means and potential effects of limiting the number and capacity of transfer stations;

- the potential impacts of these transfer stations used in relation to air quality, water quality, odors, traffic congestion and noise; and

- analysis of the types of vehicles appropriate for transport of materials to and from transfer stations and the mechanism by which truck routing decisions are made.

DOS is required to present to the Council by the last quarter of 2001 data necessary to conduct the study and a report on the completed study must be presented to the Council within 18 months after the consultant contract is registered and at least two (2) months prior to submission of the next comprehensive solid waste management plan.

The Modification will contain text that recites this obligation.

In addition to the above-listed revisions to the Modification and the comprehensive commercial waste study to be performed, the Council addressed other issues relevant to solid waste management as follows:

A matter of great concern that was presented to the Council by many witnesses at our hearings, and is reflected in the comprehensive commercial waste study legislation, is enforcement of the rules governing the operation of transfer stations and private carters and the strength of the applicable rules. DOS currently assigns eleven (11) Sanitation police officers and three (3) lieutenants to transfer station and private carter enforcement. This staff is divided among two tours of duty on Monday through Saturday with periodic overnight and Sunday tours. DOS has committed to increasing their transfer station and private carter enforcement personnel by adding four (4) Sanitation police officers and one (1) lieutenant to those operations and by adding a third tour of duty, while maintaining the six (6) day/week enforcement schedule. This will result in a new overnight tour and provide greater flexibility in enforcement on Sundays and in special enforcement projects. The new staff will enable increased enforcement on the night (12 to 8) shift, with a focus in Brooklyn Community Board #1 where a large number of transfer stations operate.

In response to concerns regarding that solid waste facilities developed pursuant to the Plan will be City-owned as much as possible, DOS has further committed that with respect to the Greenpoint, Brooklyn wasteshed, a specific preference for the City-owned Greenpoint MTS will be established in the procurement solicitation documents relating to that wasteshed.

The long-term export contracts with the privately-owned waste processing facilities will not be "put or pay"-type contracts that have minimum tonnage guarantees that risk undermining the City’s recycling and waste prevention efforts. DOS responded to the concerns expressed by the Council, and others, by structuring a payment schedule that contains a fixed cost component related to any capital costs incurred by a vendor to develop and equip a facility and a variable cost component payable on a per-ton basis. This concept will be included in the Response to comments by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The Administration has committed to staggering the expiration dates of the contracts which will better keep the City’s waste transfer and disposal operations from being interrupted and increase the City’s negotiating leverage.

Moreover, it is expected that there will be provisions in these contracts that will permit cancellation if it is determined to be in the best interests of the City. For example, the Council suggested to DOS that the contracts should contain a provision for a review of any new technologies for processing solid waste, and the City should have the option to employ these technologies. DOS has responded to Council inquiries that they do not envision contracts that will preclude the use of new technologies if that is determined to be in the City’s best interests.

In order to improve the Council’s oversight of the commercial waste management system, the Council has requested, and the Administration has agreed, to provide the Council with summaries of quarterly tonnage reports from transfer stations and from private carters.

As noted previously, a major weakness in the City’s recycling program is the mixed record of compliance in the City’s more than 1,000 public schools. There is a need for intensified public education, expanded recycling and a recycling curriculum in the public schools. Given Council concern about the Board of Education’s (BOE) efforts on recycling, in addition to funding the pilot program for recycling and waste prevention coordinators, DOS will develop a pilot program to foster greater recycling in public schools by using dual-bin collection trucks in The Bronx and Queens. Recycling and refuse collection would be provided simultaneously – five day/week refuse collection in one bin and five additional recycling collections/week in the other bin (2 metal/glass/plastic and 3 paper).

It should also be noted that DOS and the BOE are in the final stages of developing a curriculum and completing teacher resource materials to address waste prevention, reuse and recycling targeted to grades K-5 and expect to have them available for use in the Spring 2001 semester.

In addition to City budgetary allocations for recycling, the City will apply for funding pursuant to the 1972 Environmental Quality Bond Act and the 1996 Clean Water/Clean Air for recycling-related programs. DOS has already filed a "pre-application" for funding for an expanded "Team Up to Clean Up" community beautification contest that will include the promotion of recycling compliance and awareness. A school entrant will be required to demonstrate an existing and on-going recycling program to qualify.

The State Legislature recently signed legislation allowing municipalities to obtain funding from an annual allocation of nearly $5 million to pay for recycling coordinators and other expenses related to operating a public education program for recycling. DOS has agreed to apply for this funding.