By EMILY SAWAKED
The lack of trash cans for pedestrians on Bronx streets has been noticed by residents for quite a while. As reported, the situation worsened amid the pandemic with many people eating outdoors in parks, especially in summertime, often causing existing cans to be overloaded. Though that specific problem is not yet resolved, Bronx Community Board 7 (CB7) and City officials are working, in the meantime, on other ways to keep the borough’s sidewalks and parks clean.
CB7 held its latest sanitation committee meeting on Tuesday, June 7, and members discussed how litter and other trash is consistently dumped onto streets, roads, and parks across the district. Present at the meeting were Stephen Caruso from NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY), Greer Mayhew from the City Comptroller Brad Lander’s office, Effie Ardizzone from NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), along with community and board members.
The main discussion revolved around how to keep The Bronx clean, both for the residents, and to combat climate change. During his presentation, Mayhew said both littering and waste from construction and buildings have negatively impacted upon the environment. “As of 2020, 75 percent of energy consumption in the City is fossil fuel-based gas and oil,” he said, but the City has set a solar target which has eight years left to reach the end goal of 1,000 megawatts.”
As for emissions, Mayhew explained that New York City has only reduced these by 25 percent since 2005, even though the goal is to reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050. “Seventy percent of our emissions comes from our buildings,” he said, with transportation coming second, and waste coming third. “Over 40 percent of New York City buildings have failing energy rates.”
A lot of that, according to Mayhew, is also due to the expansion and construction of buildings, which, according to CB7 and Caruso, have been contributing greatly to the production and dumping of waste. This was one of the points addressed during Caruso’s presentation.
“The main focus is on commercial waste, so we’re looking to set up some kind of [industrial] container on the street in which we’ll collect all the commercial garbage in that particular area,” he said. This includes containers for construction workers at buildings, and the different vendors in The Bronx. Caruso added that DSNY is also looking for more employees, and that those interested can take an exam online to be placed on the civil service list.
Also discussed was an upcoming clean-up event that is being organized by DSNY in conjunction with the Yankees and the Office of the Bronx Borough President, whereby clean-up volunteers get free tickets to Yankees games and a chance to win seats in the VIP box. Similar such clean-up events have taken place in different parts of The Bronx in the past, but due to the current partnership with Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, it is now happening all over the borough.
“It will be between July and September,” said Caruso. “There will be six clean-up events, I believe, so if anyone has any specific locations they would like to see be addressed, you can certainly let me know.” he said as he shared his email address, email@example.com. “Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the amount of trash that we see out on the curb for prolonged periods of time,” he added.
Rat infestation was another issue that came up and it was confirmed that DSNY offer free, online “rat academy” training sessions. Residents can sign up for these rat academy training sessions online.
Since DSNY now requires owners and developers of new, large residential buildings to submit a Waste Management Plan, a new rule effective since April 1, 2022, this topic was also discussed.
Caruso gave a brief explanation of the requirements of the plan, which included, calculating “an estimated amount of trash, recyclables and compostable material that will be created when operating at full capacity.” The waste storage plan should also “ensure sanitary conditions for 150% of expected waste between scheduled collection.”
Additionally, the plan should “keep recycling and composting separate from regular trash,” and define “how and where the material will be set out for DSNY collection.” It should ensure tenants are educated about waste management, which includes the placement of signage and education on complying with applicable DOB and NYC building codes.”
Caruso said waste management plans for new buildings or for buildings where there are any significant renovations or expansions should be submitted to DOB at the same time as the new building designs or renovation designs. He said DSNY makes its own waste management calculation, and this can help with the drafting of individual waste management plans for buildings.
“We’re also offering zero waste training to building managers as well,” said Caruso. On the other hand, it was confirmed that the expansion of curbside composting is currently on hold until further notice.
CB7’s sanitation committee budget proposals were also discussed at the end of the meeting, with a motion to reword and clarify some to make them more precise. They related to funding for education around waste management laws and enforcement, including pet waste and electronic waste. All were approved, subject to any final amendments by the full CB7 Board.
More information on DSNY jobs can be found on the department’s website: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/dsny/site/employment-opportunities.
For more information on DSNY’s rat academy training, go to: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/services/rats-control-training.page.
Visit nyc.gov/wastemanagementplan to learn more about waste management and to submit a waste management plan.