Tag Archives: Organics Recycling

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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WeCare Organics Delivering Everything BUT Green

wecare

Beginning in the summer of 2010, tons of organic waste, set aside by residents of suburban Toronto, were hauled away by an upstate New York company that promised to turn the waste into rich, valuable compost to enrich soil and fertilize plants. Instead, a new lawsuit alleges, the organic waste was unceremoniously buried at Seneca Meadows Landfill in Seneca County.

Now the Regional Municipality of York wants $6 million in compensation for the diversion, which their lawsuit flatly labels “fraud.”

At issue is an ambitious organics recycling program by York Region, a community of 1.1 million people north of the city of Toronto. Residents there were given toters into which were to place food waste, paper and certain other materials that will break down during composting. The municipality hired several companies, including WeCare Organics of upstate New York, to take away this waste and compost it.

WeCare Organics was to be paid $158 a ton to compost up to 30,000 tons a year at its facility in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

According to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Rochester on Dec. 27, York Region officials received an “anonymous tip” in January 2012 that WeCare wasn’t hauling that organic waste all the way to Marlborough for transformation into environmentally friendly compost.

Officials determined a month later that virtually all of the organic waste hauled away by WeCare had instead wound up at Seneca Meadows, New York’s largest landfill, the lawsuit alleges. This was news to York, and by the spring of 2012, the contract between the municipality and WeCare had been terminated.

That leaves the small matter of $6 million, which is the amount that WeCare allegedly billed the municipality between July 2010 and April 2012.

In its suit, York claims WeCare officials lied when they promised to compost the material and defrauded the municipality by submitting invoices claiming they were doing so.

The legal papers note that composting organics is more expensive than simply burying them, but that the municipality’s citizens were willing to pay a premium to see the waste turned into a useful commodity.

WeCare hasn’t responded to the lawsuit in court yet. WeCare also faces legal problems at the other end of the process – in Massachusetts, where the city of Marlborough filed its own federal lawsuit in November claiming the composting plant where York’s organics were supposed to be taken is violating environmental laws and unleashing a foul odor on neighbors.

Does anyone really know where their organics go?