After a waste equity bill aimed at capping the level of municipal garbage handled by certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx failed to pass last year, a new bill—Intro 157—will be voted on at today’s council meeting.
This morning, Brooklyn Councilmembers Antonio Reynoso and Stephen Levin held a rally with waste-industry stakeholders at City Hall to call for the bill’s passage.
“The passage of Intro 157 is a momentous achievement in the fight for environmental justice and the reform of our City’s private waste management system,” said Reynoso, sponsor of Intro. 157. “Currently, low-income communities of color handle a staggeringly disproportionate amount of our City’s waste. Residents are exposed to dangerous truck traffic, elevated air pollution, and hazardous environmental impacts— contributing to historical inequities in resource distribution along economic and racial lines.”
“Intro 157 will finally deliver environmental justice to frontline communities and ensure that no other neighborhood suffers the same fate, while setting a historic precedent for the fair share distribution of burdensome and polluting facilities in the City of New York. This is a first, crucial step toward reforming the City’s commercial carting industry,” he continued.
Nearly 40% of New York’s garbage is processed through North Brooklyn, leading to a high number of truck trips through impacted neighborhoods. Today’s legislation hopes to cut down on that number.
North Brooklyn residents have been especially affected by both the truck traffic and air pollution associated with commercial waste hauling. Last year, Cleanup North Brooklyn filed suit against a waste transfer station in Bushwick for nuisance conditions, pollution and dangerous truck traffic.
Last summer, bicyclist Neftaly Ramirez was struck and killed by a private garbage truck in a hit-and-run that sparked community outrage over the dangerous driving by waste haulers. With similar deaths in the Bronx this year attracting national attention to the realities of the waste-hauling industry, something had to give.
“This is a time of reckoning for an industry that routinely mistreats its workers and has for decades shouldered a handful of communities with the burden of processing waste for an entire city,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.
The previous attempt at capping waste transfer in impacted neighborhoods, Intro 495, failed to pass last year despite mayoral support. This time around, reports are that Council Speaker Corey Johnson has been drumming up support for the bill and indications are that it will pass later today.