The city Department of Sanitation has hired a consultant to draft a proposal to offer incentives for homeowners to recycle garbage and while possibly including a nominal fee.
The “Save As You Throw” program is still in its early phase and details of how the fee would be implemented are sparse, but the request for proposals and the subsequent hiring of a consultant have already drawn the opposition of Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens).
“There was a stakeholder meeting in fall 2015. At that point, we started developing an RFP for a ‘Save As You Throw’ consultant,” DSNY spokeswoman Belinda Mager said. “The purpose of the RFP was to help DSNY develop a blueprint for a new user system that would create an incentive for households to recycle residential waste and organics by providing a benefit, like a rebate or tax-based credit, for the amount of materials recycled by a household.”
She pointed out that the approach could include a nominal fee for a bag or a tag required to dispose of residential taste. Mager said the department wants to understand how to develop such a program in the city.
Grodenchik sits on the Council’s Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management and claimed the nominal fee could have a negative impact on residents who are already restricted to putting out six bags per pickup.
“There are several problems with it; you will start to see people dumping on the streets, you start to see people dumping in our parks, you will start to see people putting garbage in their neighbor’s garbage. You’re also creating a bureaucracy that doesn’t need to exist right now,” Grodenchik said. “Our property taxes have continued to go up, New York City residents are paying a personal income tax, we have a the state income tax; it comes down to nickel and dime-ing people.”
According to Grodenchik, more people are recycling in the city as it is with pickup that allows them to divide their refuse and the launch of a compost program last year.
In 2016, Grodenchik opposed a City Council bill to tax retailers for plastics bags which would require them to charge customers five cents per bag. Gov. Andrew Cuomo stepped in and placed a moratorium on the bill to stop its implementation, which Grodenchik applauded on the grounds that the fee would place a burden on low-income New Yorkers while having little positive impact on the environment.
Mager said in the two years the agency has been at work on the proposal, the only progress so far has been hiring the consultant. The contract term is three years with two years of possible extension.
“At this point, it’s too early to be able to answer any specific questions around timing or what the program may look like; it’s too early in the process,” Mager said. “The Department of Sanitation is committed to including a broad range of stakeholders through the process and coming up with an equitable plan.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall
©2018 Community News Group
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