Monthly Archives: October 2012

A Home for Compost


What happens when a compost company posts this problem…I have about 3,000 cubic yards of municipal cured compost and 4,000 curing. I need to store it until a buyer is found to make room for what we are producing.

It seems that Dicksons Environmental Services is experiencing a problem and writing about it.  Could it be that other composting facilities are having the same problem?  Is this potentially the “new” problem the US will have to deal with if all commercial food waste generators choose to compost their food waste?  What do we do with all this compost until a buyer is found?  Maybe the US should limit how much compost is generated per month and then heavily promote digesting food waste to be sent down the drain to be converted into water?  Don’t think we will ever run out of uses for water.

Safety First: Big Apple, Big Concerns


In his recent article on Waste360, Mr. Biderman suggests that squeezed margins of waste haulers reduce their commitment to safety and may be to blame for recent garbage truck accidents.  The streets of NYC are overcrowded, making it near impossible for waste haulers to do their jobs effectively and without incident perhaps, so let’s help the waste haulers instead of blaming them.  Install the Eco-Safe Digester to handle the food waste at all locations that generate more than 500 pounds of food waste per day to reduce the truck traffic.  That would help to protect the safety of everyone including the kids that are back in school.

October 5, 2012, David Biderman

A look at the variables possibly hampering safe waste operations in New York City.

I was planning on writing an upbeat “Back to School” column this month, in which I would urge solid waste collection workers, particularly drivers, to watch out for children at bus stops and walking to their neighborhood schools. Kids are curious about garbage trucks and can behave unpredictably, and a reminder about keeping an eye out for them is always warranted.

But then there were two fatal accidents involving garbage trucks in New York City in a single week.

In the first incident, which took place in Brooklyn, an allegedly intoxicated motorist, who reportedly did not possess a valid driver’s license, drove into a garbage truck at upwards of 70 miles per hour. The vehicle hit the truck so hard that the truck turned over, killing a passenger in the vehicle. The motorist has been charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. In the second incident, in Manhattan, a pedestrian was killed when she was struck by a garbage truck. According to the company involved in this tragic accident, the woman was illegally crossing the street against a red light. There have been several other fatal accidents this year involving our industry in New York City, including a taxi driver and passenger being killed in a collision with a garbage truck on the Long Island Expressway in Queens.

It does not appear that the driver of the garbage trucks involved in any of these incidents was at fault. However, these fatalities and other similar incidents in New York City make me wonder if there are any operational or regulatory factors contributing to this uptick in these accidents. Based on my conversations with several carters in New York City, there are several potentially contributing factors.

First, as has been widely reported, there has been an epidemic of cardboard theft in New York City during the past year. People with vans are picking up loose and baled cardboard left out by customers. In response, some carters have adjusted their collection schedules to try to get to the customer before the cardboard thieves. This probably isn’t good for safety.

Second, despite the rising cost of operations, the city’s rate cap has not changed for years, forcing many carters to operate on narrower margins. Unfortunately, at some companies, this may mean less devotion to safety.

Third, the proliferation of new carters and low insurance requirements means a highly competitive waste services market. Competition is a healthy thing, but not at the expense of worker and third-party safety.

The city’s reaction to these accidents often is to conduct an enforcement blitz against the licensed carters, which usually results in dozens of tickets being written in a single night. It probably would be more helpful if city officials took a step back and examined how the cardboard theft epidemic, lack of action on the rate cap and low insurance requirements may be contributing to these incidents. Let me be clear: it does not appear the driver of the truck was at fault in either fatal accident last month. But in both incidents, someone died and a truck was damaged. Insurance claims will be filed, and lawyers have been consulted.

Such incidents should remind anyone with an interest in such matters not to let their guard down when it comes to protecting their drivers, their trucks and others on the road. For example, tell your drivers to keep an eye out for the kids at the bus stop. The sun rises later each day during the fall and most of the kids are not wearing high-viz clothing.

Common Myths and Excuses About Recycling


The good news is that recycling initiatives, specifically food waste collection practices, are continually being modified and improved upon.  As people become more aware of the benefits and truths of recycling, we will see a wider adoption of food waste programs.  However, there will always be those that believe… recycling costs more than traditional land-filling, recycling causes  pollution, recycling does not preserve our natural resources or land-fills, and recycling is a burden.  If only there was a trusted establishment that could debate these excuses.

In an article by Rob Gogan, Supervisor of Recycling and Solid Waste Removal at Harvard University addresses those common myths and excuses about recycling.