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New York City is finally moving ahead with plans to overhaul the deadly commercial waste-collection industry after months of delays due to COVID-19, officials said Friday.
The revamp approved by the city council in 2019 will shift commercial trash collection to a zone-based system, cutting truck traffic in half, according to proponents.
Carting companies can submit applications to serve specific zones as of Friday, the Department of Sanitation said in a statement. Responses are due in February.
“The City’s Commercial Waste Zones program will fundamentally change the way the commercial waste hauling industry operates here,” said Noah Genel of the Business Integrity Commission, which regulates the industry.
“It will lead to far fewer truck miles traveled in New York City. That means safer streets for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike, along with cleaner air for everyone.”
On top of 20 designated zones, which will each be served by three companies, the city is also taking bids for five citywide containerized collection contracts, officials said.
The city’s existing carting regime is a free-for-all system that lets companies pick up trash all over the city. That forces drivers on long shifts, which in turn leads to dangerous driving.
Private trash trucks were involved in 43 traffic deaths between 2010 and 2017, according city data. Momentum for reform surged after Sean Spence, a driver for Sanitation Salvage, ran over two pedestrians in the span of six months in 2017 and 2018.
One of the victims was Mouctar Diallo, who Spence initially claimed was a panhandler who had jumped in front of the truck.
Sanitation Salvage closed shop in late 2018 after an investigation by the BIC.
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