New York City Marine Transfer Station Plan Could Triple Costs

A tug boat pushes a garbage barge past the Statue of Liberty

While residents of the Upper East Side continue to fight the opening of a rebuilt Marine Transfer Station that would handle some of the island’s waste it still doesn’t address the underlying problem of too much trash.

New York City’s current day-to-day approach to trash – shipping most of it elsewhere – is not fundamentally sustainable. The more than 10,000 tons or greater of commercial waste generated every day is taken by private carters, both directly to New Jersey and to waste transfer stations in the other boroughs for shipment to out-of-state landfills.

Trucking this trash out of New York City every day is also not cheap. NYC taxpayers spend over $330 million annually in landfill costs and then there is also the additional cost on the environment

The basic philosophy behind the Solid Waste Management Plan, that includes the marine transfer stations, is to establish a more equitable -and less impactful- waste processing system, with infrastructure in every borough.

Opponents argue that while there may be less trucks on the road this plan will not contribute to a more environmentally sustainable waste management system in New York City and that the City should be focused on reducing the actual waste stream, and not on large capital projects.

According to the city’s Independent Budget Office (IBO), this proposal will triple the cost of waste management for the city. The IBO estimated that the waste management costs per ton at a new facility proposed for the city’s Upper East Side would be $278 in its first year of operation, 2016. The current interim plan of shipping waste to transfer stations in New Jersey and Yonkers, N.Y., is $93 by comparison.

The higher cost per ton for the marine transfer station is due primarily to “the more costly multimodal method of transporting waste from transfer station to its final destination via barge and rail.

The Department of Sanitation is continuing the Bloomberg administration’s late-term efforts to expand what is recycled in the five boroughs by introducing organics recycling but at what cost?

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