In what represents a significant attempt to streamline New York’s fragmented commercial waste management market, recent legislation from the New York City Council promises to fundamentally change the way waste is picked up and processed throughout the city.

The Commercial Waste Zones bill — as passed on November 20, 2019 — has been six years in the making and will divide the city into at least 20 commercial zones, with each zone served by up to three private haulers. Companies will bid, in response to a Request for Proposal (RFP), for the rights to service one or multiple of these commercial zones.

In essence, the bill will push New York away from the current open system towards a more organized and consolidated approach to waste management that prioritizes sustainability and service alongside simple cost-based factors. The aim is to make the city safer, cleaner, and more efficient – while maintaining competition through a non-exclusive zoning model – by creating incentives for the most responsible hauler-operators to service the city.

What does the bill mean for your business?

As the largest commercial waste market in the US, and one of the earliest to embrace private waste hauling more than 60 years ago, New York’s waste management market has long been serviced piecemeal by hundreds of hauler operators. While encouraging enterprising haulers, this has made it difficult for businesses to adapt to today’s environmental standards.

Today, simply discarding waste in a single trash can is no longer acceptable, and recent updates to a range of laws are putting increased onus on businesses to choose the right hauler-operator that can help them meet sustainability and transparency requirements. While competition can reduce costs, businesses are quickly becoming aware that this can no longer be the only consideration.

For businesses concerned that reduced competition will drive up prices, rest-assured that cost-efficiency will still be an important factor when bids are made. Moreover, the fact that each new zone will be serviced by multiple haulers and that price caps are built into the law will control costs. However, cost considerations will now be balanced with sustainability and transparency, two elements that are driving the city’s goals towards zero waste by 2030.

The new law attempts to increase efficiency across the entire city, aiming to reduce the number of individual trucks traversing the same neighborhoods, boroughs, and often individual streets.

Additionally, it also includes a heavy emphasis on safety, recycling, reducing pollution, and increased job quality, as well as on the adoption of more sustainable vehicles and increased transparency of materials flows.

The bottom line is that the new bill will likely reduce your overall choice of waste service provider. However, businesses will now be able to count on those providers that win the rights to service zones to deliver better service, increased transparency, and the information you need to ensure your business can meet legal requirements and your own sustainability goals.

What should your business do next?

The first stages of the bill are already being implemented across New York City, and more information is coming soon for businesses like yours. To date, the timeline is penciled in as follows:

  • RFPs for each zone are scheduled to be released in May. This process will ask for bids from vendors for specific zones. No hauler will be able to serve more than 15 zones.
  • Final decisions by the City on vendors are due in September.
  • New waste partners are slated to be selected by the end of 2020. At this point you will be notified as to which vendors will serve your area.
  • After this date, you will be free to select whichever of the three vendors assigned to your zone makes the most sense for your business. You will not be tied to a single vendor and you are free to use any combination of your zone’s chosen providers.
  • If you require roll-off service, there will be two companies specifically designated to provide these services citywide. It is therefore possible that these companies will be the same ones as those otherwise servicing your zone, but they may be different.

How RTS can help your business navigate the new bill

While the new legislation may take many months to implement, we are already working hard to ensure our clients and other businesses are educated on the effects of the bill. David Segall, VP of Policy and Municipalities at RTS, has this to say:

“DSNY has been clear that while price is important in selecting zone service providers, sustainability and service are together as or more important. While it will be a big step to move in this direction, businesses will ultimately benefit.”

RTS is built on a value-driven approach, and we’re committed to loyalty, transparency, and accountability to our customers, employees, and community. We leverage the latest technologies to provide both on-demand and recurring collections of your waste, and we’re pushing sustainable waste management forward through more efficient haulage and detailed waste metrics that give your business the information it needs to be more responsible.

Want more information on the Commercial Waste Zones bill?

For more information, contact RTS today. If you are interested in becoming a hauler partner, sign up here.

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