Legislation & regulation

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December 8, 2020

NYC releases request for proposals for commercial waste zone collection

The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) released a request for proposals (RFP) on Nov. 19 for private carting companies interested in participating in the city’s commercial waste zones program.

According to a release from DSNY, “Commercial waste zones will create a safe and efficient system to collect waste from NYC businesses and provide high-quality, low-cost service while advancing the city’s zero waste goals.”

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The program is authorized by legislation which New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed in November 2019.

This RFP is the latest step toward implementation of the commercial waste zone program. In February, DSNY published a final rule designating 20 zones for commercial waste collection. Through the RFP process, DSNY will select up to three carters to provide service to customers within each zone, as well as up to five carters to provide containerized collection service citywide.

DSNY says this program will bring “clarity and stability to an industry that impacts nearly every street in the city, while keeping the competition necessary for low prices.”

“The commercial waste zones program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring real, comprehensive and meaningful reform to the private carting industry. Today marks the next step toward achieving that reform,” DSNY Acting Commissioner Edward Grayson says. “This approach acknowledges the very real challenges facing the private carting industry, while advancing this much-needed initiative that will bring safer streets, cleaner air and a modern private carting industry built to better serve NYC businesses.”

The commercial waste zones RFP will be issued in two parts, giving potential program awardees sufficient time to prepare, plan and respond.

Part I of the RFP, released Nov. 19, requests information from potential program awardees about their qualifications to provide commercial waste collections services, including licensing status with the Business Integrity Commission, financial statements and compliance history. Responses to Part I are due Feb. 19, 2021.

Following the receipt of Part I responses, the department will issue Part II of the RFP, which will request more robust information about potential program awardees, including plans to achieve the programmatic goals of commercial waste zones, such as plans for safety, customer service, sustainable waste management, infrastructure investment and zero waste plans.

The commercial waste zones program is the result of more than five years of analysis, stakeholder engagement and planning at the DSNY. The department plans to follow the RFP process with a multi-year customer transition process that includes outreach and education for businesses.

The RFP and related documents can be downloaded online.

New Jersey governor signs plastic, paper bag ban in effort to improve state's sustainability

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has signed New Jersey Senate Bill 864, which prohibits the use of single-use plastic and paper bags in all stores and food service businesses statewide. According to a statement on the governor’s website, he views this legislation as “a significant step to reduce harm and pollution that these products cause to our environment.”

The state's Senate initially voted to ban the use of single-use bags and expanded polystyrene (EPS) takeout containers March 5.

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“Plastic bags are one of the most problematic forms of garbage, leading to millions of discarded bags that stream annually into our landfills, rivers and oceans,” Murphy says. “With today’s historic bill signing, we are addressing the problem of plastic pollution head-on with solutions that will help mitigate climate change and strengthen our environment for future generations.”

The governor’s website states that “paper bags require resources and energy to produce, contributing to pollution.”

Starting in May 2022, New Jersey will ban single-use plastic and paper bags and disposable EPS food containers and cups. The state will focus on promoting reusable bags. The following products will be exempt from the ban for two years after May 2022:

  • disposable, long-handled PS soda spoons when required and used for thick drinks;
  • portion cups of 2 ounces or less if used for hot foods requiring lids;
  • meat and fish trays for raw or butchered meat, including poultry or fish that is sold from a refrigerator or similar retail appliance;
  • any food product prepackaged by the manufacturer with a PS food service product; and
  • any other PS foam food service product determined necessary by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Under the new law, the governor’s website states food service businesses will be allowed to provide single-use plastic straws only upon request starting November 2021.

Several state lawmakers and the state’s Department of Environmental Protection applauded Murphy for signing S864.

“Single-use plastic bags unnecessarily litter New Jersey’s most treasured spaces and pollute our ecosystems,” says New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “By banning single-use plastic bags, Gov. Murphy and our legislature continue to make New Jersey a national leader in environmental protection, and the DEP stands ready to implement these new measures and educate the public.”

However, some trade associations do not agree with the action taken by the New Jersey legislature, including the Washington-based American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA).

“This action undermines an environmentally responsible option for consumers,” says Heidi Brock, president and CEO of AF&PA, of the ban on paper bags specifically. “New Jersey is now the only state in the nation to ban paper bags, which are made from a renewable resource and are recyclable, reusable and compostable, providing a safe packaging option to protect purchases from damage and contamination. With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Murphy sent an alarming message in devaluing family-wage manufacturing jobs."