Clearing the Air: How Reforming the Public Waste Sector Can Address Air Quality Issues in Environmental Justice Communities

Asher TobinIn The News, Solid Waste Recycling

Sanitation works smile in front of their truck on a street

(Transform Don’t Trash NYC) Decades of lax regulatory policies have permitted commercial waste haulers and facilities to prioritize their bottom line above the environment, community health, and worker welfare. Haulers bypass close by transfer stations with available capacity in favor of inefficient and overlapping routes to truck roughly three-quarters of the City’s putrescible and construction/demolition solid waste through a handful of low-income communities and communities of color​ in the South Bronx, North Brooklyn, and Southeast Queens. Driving diesel trucks on long routes with hundreds of stops per night exposes workers to excessive levels of pollutants. A recent, unprecedented routing study by DSNY and the Business Integrity Commission (BIC) found that a large share of the 23 million miles traveled by private waste trucks are concentrated along the Gowanus, BQE, and LIE expressways, in all of the Bronx, and in parts of South Brooklyn and Southeast Queens. The health of these communities and the workers that operate these trucks is compromised by an inefficient commercial waste system that has dirty diesel trucks driving millions more miles than necessary to service commercial customers.

Read and download the report here