Streams

Meet NYC's New Sanitation Chief

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Kathryn Garcia, new NYC DSNY commissioner, talks about succeeding John Doherty, the department's plans for recycling, summer cleanup...and -- yes -- next year's snow.

 

Guests:

Kathryn Garcia

Comments [46]

jackie from UES

I am a 72 year old senior. Upon reading dorothee's comment I was reminded of when I was a child in England my mother would take the vinegar bottle back to the store to be refilled from a barrel. Recently I bought a jar of pasta sauce from a nearby butcher. It came in a screw top mason jar. I wanted to return this glass jar to be reused but was told it was not allowed. I do not understand - all glass jars are sterilized before being filled anyway so why not be allowed to return them to the source? This kind of behaviour could help even to reduce the amount of recycling. Just a thought.

Jun. 03 2014 08:16 AM
dorothee from 10026

Thanks for this show and bring sanitation to the conversation but I wonder if a discussion around reducing NYC waste couldn't be useful as well. You're saying that NYC doesn't have the best numbers in the country regarding sanitation but maybe it's because of the amount of waste produced from the beginning that is a lot bigger than many cities with all the take outs etc...In cities like Seattle, Portland these take outs are at least in compostable containers. Many stores propose bulk items you can buy that help reducing enormously the amount of domestic waste. And if restaurants, bars and cafes propose real silverware and cups instead of disposable ones (even when you stay at the place) their garbage bins would be a lot smaller as well. There are many easy ideas to reduce waste and I think it is disappointing to never hear them mentioned.
Thanks.

May. 28 2014 12:21 PM
Ari Kesler from Brooklyn

Battery and electronic waste is a major issue in NYC and I'd like to hear more about the cities future plans.

May. 28 2014 10:11 AM
ellen diamond from East 0

Anyone who bikes around Manhattan knows the Hudson River is removed from
Manhattan residences from top to bottom by:industrial buildings, huge Riverside Park and by the natural contours of the land with the river much, much farther below the streets. The nearest residences are probably a good 10 blocks from the water in most places. My apartment is less than 2 blocks away and between me and the water are 6 public housing units! During Sandy, the water flooded their basements and came up to my building. You tell me: better to build a 10 story garbage plant 1 block away from where thousands of people live in a flood zone A and when the garbage ends up in New Jersey, where Manhattan's garbage has been going, than anywhere along the West Side, where the residences start so far away and above.

May. 27 2014 09:10 PM
Jacqueline Torrance from UES

Brian, I second Matthew Chapman's suggestion that there should be A RADIO SHOW ABOUT JUST THIS - the MTS transfer Station. The details are just not getting our there. The 91st St. MTS project is a travesty. It is tantamount to VANDALISM.
I urge both you and your producer to read TALKING TRASH, a report put out by Pledge2Protect then you will understand why everyone is so upset.
Matthew Chapman would be the perfect guest for this issue.

PS. I am a big, big fan of your show

May. 27 2014 03:39 PM

Inevitably a tragedy will occur. children and garbage trucks do not mix. a garbage dump adjacent to a park, camp and sports facility will definitely lead to a horrible accident.

May. 27 2014 03:03 PM

The City's Solid Waste Management Plan (literally a SWMP) is woefully outdated and will bring us environmental and fiscal problems. It will hold NYC back from moving forward with progressive waste management solutions. I guess it just isn't sexy enough for journalists. It's so much easier to buy into the divisive political symbolism associated with the plan - sold first by Mike Bloomberg and Chris Quinn and now by the de Blasio crowd.

May. 27 2014 02:52 PM
Dara from NYC from NYC

The NYC Solid Waste Management Plan (truly a SWMP)is seriously flawed from both environmental and fiscal perspectives. It will do real harm to New Yorkers and very little if any good. The plan holds NYC back from committing to real waste reduction and diversion strategies and other 21st Century waste management solutions. NYC is way behind - recycling 15-16 percent of its waste while L.A. recycles about 45 percent.
Why won't journalists take this seriously? Not sexy enough? It's almost as depressing as the SWMP itself.

May. 27 2014 02:22 PM

In response to Lisa from Brooklyn: the upper east side, indeed the whole of Manhattan does handle its own municipal garbage and it leaves without going into your borough - at all! The problem is private carters who are unregulated and pick up commercial trash. But most importantly, if this facility ever opens, it will do nothing to help the outer boroughs. Indeed, given the prevailing winds, the pollution from highly toxic tugs towing all this down the east river will blow into Queens and Brooklyn as never before. This project is a scam. It scams you as much as it scams the people in public housing in this densely (far more densely than anywhere else in the city) populated area. This project is political cynicism. It has nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with real estate.

May. 27 2014 01:54 PM
matthew chapman from NEW YORK

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-chapman/bill-de-blasio-climate-change_b_5394773.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-chapman/bloombergs-marin-transfer-site_b_3857268.html

Read these two articles I wrote. What everyone is missing is that this isn't just about climate change (the idiocy of putting a garbage site in a flood zone), nor about pollution (East Harlem is the most asthmatic area in the city), nor about inhumanity toward city kids who are going to get run down by the 500 to 800 truck drive-bys a day, nor about class and race warfare (the garbage site IS right in front of public housing), it is MOST OF ALL about corruption. This story is emblematic of everything wrong with New York (and the rest of the country). The garbage site is not there because it makes environmental sense, nor to make people in the outer boroughs happy (it will do nothing for them), it's about MONEY - Real Estate Money poured into first Quinn and then de Blasio's campaigns and now dictating policy. If you read the articles you'll see that Bloomberg had his own and different reasons for putting this on 91st (electoral reasons), but now it is all about NOT putting it anywhere where it might get in the way of real estate development. The hell with children and people in public housing. One doesn't vote, the other doesn't put money into campaigns. The placement of this garbage site has always been problematic. It's wildly over budget too, a waste of money in a city that has a shamefully large homeless population that could use the money being wasted her. This is a genuine scandal. It's the kind of thing that can ruin reputations and reveal structural failings in the political system. There should be a radio show JUST ABOUT THIS.

May. 27 2014 01:41 PM
Sam from Brooklyn

Brian, like other reporters, misses the real story here: the new Mayor stubbornly refuses to face facts that the waste plan he voted for nearly a decade ago needs fixing, as the assumptions it was based on have not panned out. He now knows: building and operating the E.91st Street trash facility to get trash to the mainland rather than using the bridges and tunnels as at present will TRIPLE the city's waste disposal costs--paid for by residents in all boroughs--compared to driving trash to NJ as the City has done for the last 15 years. It will also increase air pollution locally and citywide. True progressive leadership is needed on this and for the Southwest Brooklyn MTS, which is likewise not needed-- a $1.5 Billion waste, taken together.

May. 27 2014 01:04 PM
Seth Meyer from East End Avenue

Brian - I'm very disappointed in the way you handled the issue of the Transfer Station. When the commisioner answered your leading question "this is going to happen?" you did not follow-up with - WHY? You did not question her on the costs, the impact on low income housing residents directly across the street from the MTS, the sturdies that show the MTS being built below storm surge levels. Worse you let her get away with equating the West Side paper facility with the MTS as if paper and garbage are the same.

May. 27 2014 01:04 PM
Sarah from NYC

Would be nice if Mr. Lehrer was in some command of facts... Like the 91st Street MTS - old facility which operated for 40-plus years and its proposed replacement - is less than 300 feet from 5 NYCHA buildings. Some environmental justice for 3,000 low-income people who've already done 4 decades' time with the previous incarnation.

May. 27 2014 12:35 PM
Stuy Town

Part of the plan for the UES MTS is that garbage boats will now be sailing down our beloved East River 6 days/week. Past the UN, past Stuy Town, past NYCHA housing. All these neighborhoods, as well as Brooklyn neighborhoods on the opposite side of the River, will suffer the fate of East 91st St. The fact is ships are far more polluting than trucks. We are taking the ecology of the River backwards years with this transfer station.

May. 27 2014 12:18 PM
JV from Ridgewood, Queens

In addition to my comment, I would ask the Sanitation Commissioner to PLEASE add Big Belly Solar Trash Compactors in the places where trash bins have been removed. It is demoralizing to everyone to live with litter on the streets, and it especially sends the wrong message to lower income people: that their environment doesn't deserve respect from the city. Please require landlords to provide a space for garbage, and please allow store-owners to provide a trash bin in front of their place of business as to cut down on trash - especially if they are in an area of high-foot traffic.

Thank you.

May. 27 2014 11:31 AM
frances friedman from Manhattan

For 9 years, we fighting the 91st St MTS have heard these nasty personal attacks and accusations of NIMBY. We keep on fighting because we're right! We're to try to save a diverse residential community that was chosen by Bloomberg for one reason only —the undeveloped waterfront lands around Manhattan were promised to huge corporate real estate developers for private, hugely profitable hi-rise buildings. Bikers will tell you there are places all along the East + Hudson rivers where people's homes are nowhere near. The other boros' new stations are built in industrial areas. 91st St MTS is half a block from public houses and the whole 5-block radius of the plant, except for the river, is totally and thickly populated - and we're not all rich, BTW. So get used to it—we'll keep on fighting and we're right to do so.

May. 27 2014 11:22 AM
JV from Ridgewood, Queens

This is a response in reference to the caller who said she lives on the Bushwick-Ridgewood border, stating that she has noticed a huge amount of trash on the street, and that it has only gotten worse after street corner rubbish bins have been removed.

I hate to be so cynical, but my guess is that one of the reasons the street corner rubbish bins have been removed is because not only is it a cost-saver for the city (no bins to collect and empty), but it is also a revenue-generator. Why? Because more trash on the streets means more reasons for the Sanitation Patrol to dole out violation tickets to business owners and landlords that start at $100 and go higher with each repeated ticket.

I have seen business owners rush out to the street to pick up a small piece of trash that a breeze has carried over to their sidewalk. I can't help but think that given the fact that the business owner is already paying taxes to the city, don't they have a right to expect at least a rubbish bin on the corner of their block?

As a consumer, I have shopped in areas where for example, I have an empty cup of coffee that I want to throw away but have walked 3 blocks looking to find a rubbish bin to dispose it in only to find that they have all been removed. Again, I can't help but think that the city is promoting a revenue-generating situation for itself: more trash on the streets = more penalties and fines collected from business owners and landlords.

Lastly, the commissioner was clueless about why people bring their home trash to a public trash bin. I was clueless too until a friend of mine who lives in Greenpoint told me that her landlord does not provide a trash area, instead, she must store her garbage in her apartment until the night of the week when it can be placed curbside. I also had a landlord when I lived in Park Slope who would not allow us to put our trash in the few trash cans that sat outside, we had to store it in our apartment until the night of the week when we could place it curbside. We lived with many a stinky garbage bag when the weather turned warm. When I spoke to the landlord who lived in the building, he told me "I am not a superintendent, I'm not taking anyone's trash out." But it never occurred to me to drag out trash over to a public bin. Nor would I have done so, if I had thought of that idea.

May. 27 2014 11:17 AM
JV from Ridgewood, Queens

This is a response in reference to the caller who said she lives on the Bushwick-Ridgewood border, stating that she has noticed a huge amount of trash on the street, and that it has only gotten worse after street corner rubbish bins have been removed.

I hate to be so cynical, but my guess is that one of the reasons the street corner rubbish bins have been removed is because not only is it a cost-saver for the city (no bins to collect and empty), but it is also a revenue-generator. Why? Because more trash on the streets means more reasons for the Sanitation Patrol to dole out violation tickets to business owners and landlords that start at $100 and go higher with each repeated ticket.

I have seen business owners rush out to the street to pick up a small piece of trash that a breeze has carried over to their sidewalk. I can't help but think that given the fact that the business owner is already paying taxes to the city, don't they have a right to expect at least a rubbish bin on the corner of their block?

As a consumer, I have shopped in areas where for example, I have an empty cup of coffee that I want to throw away but have walked 3 blocks looking to find a rubbish bin to dispose it in only to find that they have all been removed. Again, I can't help but think that the city is promoting a revenue-generating situation for itself: more trash on the streets = more penalties and fines collected from business owners and landlords.

Lastly, the commissioner was clueless about why people bring their home trash to a public trash bin. I was clueless too until a friend of mine who lives in Greenpoint told me that her landlord does not provide a trash area, instead, she must store her garbage in her apartment until the night of the week when it can be placed curbside. I also had a landlord when I lived in Park Slope who would not allow us to put our trash in the few trash cans that sat outside, we had to store it in our apartment until the night of the week when we could place it curbside. We lived with many a stinky garbage bag when the weather turned warm. When I spoke to the landlord who lived in the building, he told me "I am not a superintendent, I'm not taking anyone's trash out." But it never occurred to me to drag out trash over to a public bin. Nor would I have done so, if I had thought of that idea.

May. 27 2014 11:16 AM
Karen from NYC

Perhaps the upper east side should just handle its own garbage and come up with its own solution, and let it just pile up until they do. Enough with the delays and lawsuits. It is not acceptable to let their garbage be the problem of another neighborhood. There are children and families and recreational areas [tho not as fancy as Asphalt Green] in other neighborhoods also.

May. 27 2014 11:13 AM
Concerned Parent from NYC from NYC

A waste transfer station abutting a sports complex servicing over 30,000 people a year, a block away from many, many schools and next to a housing complex is wrong - how does no one else see this? Whoever talks about the UES elite complaining that they don't want garbage in their backyard is CLEARLY not familiar with this area. This plan is just wrong.

May. 27 2014 11:07 AM
Barbara from Yorkville

The interview with Commissioner Garcia did not tell the truth about the SWMP plan and the east 91st street MTS. It is a physical/factual impossibility for the MTS to relieve the burden on communities in other boroughs because Manhattan trash does not go to those communities - it goes to commercial facilities in NJ where it has value when converted to energy. Ms Garcia and Mayor de Blasio repeat statements they know are not true -- they have seen the data but refuse to acknowledge the facts for political reasons. Facts: The SWMP plan will waste hundreds of millions of dollars on an outdated approach to waste management and will help NO ONE. It will increase pollution in high-risk areas. It will not achieve borough equity. It will endanger the health and safety of 34,000 children who use Asphalt Green and the 5700 residents of NYCHA housing who live next to the MTS site. All for the sake of what has become a political symbol.

May. 27 2014 11:06 AM
Lucy from Brooklyn

One more point: those who are for the 91st St MTS should at least take the time to read this and consider how massively ill-advised (and wasteful of tax-payer dollars) it is to build a major facility in a flood zone. This part of the issue is the most important point in my opinion and has gotten very little play:

http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20130613/yorkville/ues-marine-transfer-station-needs-24m-flood-proofing

May. 27 2014 11:02 AM
pkkeim from manhattan

Yes, every one should share the burden for their own garbage, but the 91st Street MTS does nothing to alleviate other boroughs garbage. How can the City plan to spend $700 million on a station to put garbage on barges to nowhere? What passes for equity is costing the city 3x as much just to ship the garbage to the same incinerators in NJ the trucks are currently taking it to. The Sanitation Commissioner should take a long look at this expensive public relations scheme and ask: is really helping anyone at all or just raising costs and putting the environment at further risk?

May. 27 2014 11:00 AM
Loraine Boyle from Manhattan

City officials have consistently refused to visit the proposed site of the 91st St. Marine Transfer station so cannot grasp what a danger this is to 2 huge public housing projects and the Asphalt Greens playing fields and Olympic pool. The commissioner says there won't be odors from the plant but what about the emissions from garbage trucks lining York Ave. for blocks waiting to dump their loads 6 days a week. And what about the fact that this is Zone A flood zone after Hurricane Sandy. This kind of facility does not belong in any residential neighborhood in the city. We need to push recycling and reducing waste, not spending almost 3/4 billion dollars to build these structures.

May. 27 2014 10:57 AM
Yun Cee from Astoria, Queens

I really want to learn more about the details about the composting organic curbside waste pickup - details are nonexistent on the site. I try to compost everything but my building does not participate in the pilot program right now. 1) Are there plans for 24/7 drop off sites for compost? 2) Will residents get compost as a "reward" for houseplants, etc.? 3) Where does all of the compost pick up go to and how are they being used?

May. 27 2014 10:57 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Please make it clear that "rigid" has a very low threshold--even those very thin plastic plates & cups that no one but the Sanitation Dept. would call "rigid" can be recycled (but still not, unfortunately, six-pack rings), as I found out when I called the Office of Recycling Outreach & Education. Too many people I talk to still think plastics recycling only includes bottles & jars.

May. 27 2014 10:54 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Another female boss speaks. I wonder how much garbage she picked up in her career?

May. 27 2014 10:52 AM
MC from NYC

Metal in trash use a magnet both the city and landlords ( metal detector will save you money )

May. 27 2014 10:51 AM
Paul from UWS

Could you callers (i.e. Tara) be better prepared to speak, and get to the point in a reasonably quick about of time and not ramble on and on, as if you forgot why you called? It's painful.

May. 27 2014 10:48 AM
Lucy Boyle from Brooklyn

I hope the commissioner will reconsider pressing "pause" on the 2006 Solid Waste Management Plan whose new facilities in South Brooklyn and on East 91st St will divert only 4% and 3% respectively of city waste.

I grew up there and remember the fumes from the old MTS as I ran at Asphalt Green, had asthma, and they closed it for pollution concerns. And it is in a super-risky area for floods--water came up to 2nd Ave I believe during Sandy, and given climate change, shocking to build this now.

May. 27 2014 10:47 AM
Amy from Manhattan

The info posted in bldg. recycling areas needs to be more prominent & more specific. I'd like to see signs w/bigger lettering saying,

"Please NO
Plastic bags
Styrofoam
Garbage"

...etc., & giving info on where you *can* take those things (plastic bags to supermarkets, styrofoam "peanuts" to UPS or FedEx, garbage to a composting site) & *prominent* signs saying to rinse food containers!

May. 27 2014 10:47 AM

The city keeps denying the fact that the 2006 SWMP WILL NOT MEET ITS GOALS. IT WILL NOT RELIEVE OTHER OVERBURDENED COMMUNITIES. Is a 1.6% diversion from E. 91st St. and a 2.4% diversion from Southwest Brooklyn enough to not consider a FRESH LOOK AT AT A VERY OLD PLAN? AND specifically the fact that two of the proposed sites E. 91st St. AND Southwest Brooklyn are densely packed residential communities and will not divert enough waste to provide relief to other overburdened communities. PRESS THE PAUSE BUTTON AND WORK ON REDUCING TONNAGE AND INCREASING RECYCLING.

May. 27 2014 10:45 AM
Terry Barth from Dyckman Valley, inwood

Who is responsible for clearing the crosswalks. Were really bad on the smaller streets in my Inwood neighborhood this past winter.

May. 27 2014 10:45 AM
john from office

Every yhenta in New York is calling in, Oh the plows make noise!! Plowing makes noise!! Stop the noise!!, pad the plows!! I want that trucks number!!! They should be punished!!

It's like a herd of elephants, you get it !!.

May. 27 2014 10:44 AM
Peter from Greenpoint

that greenpoint caller was the worst ever

May. 27 2014 10:43 AM
Lisa from Brooklyn

South Bronx and parts of Brooklyn have carried the burden for years of the majority of the City's waste, and not one inch of public space, let alone a facility like Asphalt Green. Time for Equity! Giuliani closed it for their votes.
Was there no one besides an Upper East Sider to speak on the radio about the issue, very unfair, need to hear from local people, not the former city officials that claim to speak for them.

May. 27 2014 10:42 AM
Gregory Witkowski from Greenpoint

What are you doing about the loss of the paper recycling plant that burned down 2 months ago in Greenpoint ( Greenpoint Ave. & Humbolt St.)?

May. 27 2014 10:40 AM
Bonn from East Village

Hope you get to the EV really soon, as the garbage cans are overflowing even before the weekend revelers arrive en masse. Especially along Third Avenue from 9th to 11th Streets. Interestingly, the new building on Astor Place has a gazillion new cans along one side, every few feet, where the benches are.

May. 27 2014 10:40 AM

Funny manhattan makes garbage but thinks the maids and nannies should take it home with them I guess.

May. 27 2014 10:38 AM
Lenore from Upper West Side

Some of us are tired of the UES privilegees complaining. Get the 91st street station built!!

May. 27 2014 10:38 AM
Rachel from Sunset Park

I appreciate that you want to better communicate to neighborhoods about sanitation issues.

How about working with the public schools and creating a stamp out littering campaign so that littering becomes the social pariah that smoking has become?

May. 27 2014 10:36 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Maybe back in Mayor LaGuardia's time, when it was all "the garbage," there wasn't a liberal or conservative way to pick it up, but it's not the same today.

The sanitation dept. should get moving on involving large apt. bldgs. faster--the environmental benefit of handling so much more waste sustainably will be much greater!

May. 27 2014 10:32 AM
Brock from Manhattan

Low income folks don't recycle because THEY DONT CARE! Lack of bins!? Bull. The Landlord is the new baby daddy per De Blazo and those tenants feel the same way.

May. 27 2014 10:32 AM
Rachel from Sunset Park

What will be your plans for public garbage cans? I've heard that garbage cans have been removed because it creates more garbage. That may be true in neighborhoods like Park Slope, but it certainly isn't true in neighborhoods like Sunset Park. We need more garbage cans, because people just litter.

May. 27 2014 10:32 AM
Sara from Bushwick

Since the recycling plant in Greenpoint burned down, where is a place that we can bring paper recycling?

May. 27 2014 10:31 AM
Stacy from New York

I work at an office that uses an ENORMOUS amount of paper and there is NO recycle program. What can be done about this. The waste is appalling here...

May. 27 2014 10:31 AM

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