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[greenyes] NYC - from the advocacy perspective...


Not surprisingly for those of you that know me, I've been following the messages in regard to the new MRF planned for Sunset Park, Brooklyn (about a mile from my home and in a community that I've personally worked in with the organization that leads the fight for sustainability within the neighborhood, utilizing a community-led and social justice perspective - known as UPROSE).

I think Bob Lange (writing from the City's Dept. of Sanitation) makes a point at how far the City has come (perhaps he neglects to mention they've kicked and screamed all the way). I think, Steve Hammer's vested interest aside, Steve also makes a point that the RFP process was not perfect. However, given the state of where we've been, where we are now, and where a broad cross-section of people are interested in taking the City - we're on the right track.

I appreciate the continued encouragement of these ideas from our City's Comptroller and staff (Chris Boyd).

I will likely be the last person to congratulate the City for all of its handling on solid waste matters, but am among the first to point out just how much the City is beginning to understand about the importance of this issue - not only in fluffy terms like the environment (which makes people think of birds and wilderness), but perhaps more importantly in terms of public health (those impacted by excessive truck movements within the City and unnecessary truck movements outside the City to landfills). The City should be applauded for the benefits that will be conferred by the new MRF that Hugo Neu will be operating - it will be primarily barge fed (reducing truck traffic) and it will be long-term contractually (cementing the commitment to recycling and allowing for state of the are sorting technologies). What remains of concern, relative to this facility is:

whether Bob Lange's Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling will step up the educational information and outreach campaign to increase quality and quantity of materials separated at curbside.
whether traffic concerns can be appropriately addressed for the Sunset Park community in relation to this facility - including alt. fuel vehicles and perhaps the eventual barge movements of recyclables from Southwest Brooklyn MTS and Greenpoint MTS, such that Brooklyn's recyclables would also present minimized truck impacts the way the other facilities are planned to move by barge
whether the City will push through the reopening of the Gansevoort facility in the West Village as an Environmental Education and Recycling Center - a key in the planning for Manhattan's discards

The additional importance of this announcement and the way that the City has handled the current Solid Waste Management Plan process is that the City has recognized the paramount importance of incorporating the potential economic development opportunities into the process - a clarity that has been repeatedly made clear through the incorporation of ideas put forward by the grassroots work spearheading this work in NYC as exemplified by the following reports:

Taking Out the Trash - released by the Organization of Waterfront Neighborhoods in spring 2000, a Citywide coalition of community-based organizations severely impacted by truck-based transfer stations - not surprisingly these are all low-income communities of color - http://www.consumersunion.org/other/trash/trash1.htm

Why Waste the Future? - released by the NYC Waste Prevention Coalition in spring 2002, an open coalition of individuals and advocacy organizations that support waste prevention - this report laid out an alternative savings for the City instead of the suspension of recycling and may have laid a great deal of the groundwork for some of the move the Dept. of Sanitation has made (note: Steve Hammer was invaluable on this one) - http://www.wastesaver.com/WPCreport.pdf

Reaching for Zero - released by the NYC Zero Waste Campaign, a broad-based coalition of over 40 organizations from the grassroots to national/international environmental groups, this lays out a model of options/opportunities to radically change the way the City views municipal discards and sets a goal of Zero Waste by 2024, although general consensus was reached all proposals - it is clear that these are not the only options that would get us to Zero Waste and that any one member of the campaign may prefer a different mix - http://www.consumersunion.org/other/zero-waste/

The Dept. of Sanitation of NY (DSNY) has time and again failed to embrace the forward thinking work of those in NYC and our colleagues on this listserve that push for progressive/aggressive strategies for addressing waste (as a verb rather then as a noun). It is imperative that our struggle continue and that but winning here we will help those elsewhere and vice versa - those interested in updates and finding ways to support our work in NYC should consider contacting me on behalf of the NYC Zero Waste Coalition directly.

Thank you also to the vast numbers among you that have and will continue to support the work in NYC with your inspirational stories, hard facts, strategic insights, unending encouragement, etc.

Peace,

Timothy J.W. Logan,

Zero Waste Campaign Leader

P.S. To address Helen Speigelman's concerns (as I've been unable to reach her by phone), intensive recycling has always been a part of the broader plan for zero waste and included in the more specific issue of extended producer responsibility, the NYC Zero Waste Campaign will continue to advocate for EPR including local, state and federal legislation as it makes logistical sense. Clean production is of course our desired goal, but even utilizing cradle to cradle design, recycling whether organically or of technical ingredients remains paramount to the process.


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