• September 19, 2019
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Queens Chronicle

Jamaica march backs trash zone legislation

Bill addresses waste collection for all commercial customers in city

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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 11:58 am, Thu Sep 19, 2019.

Jamaica, on and in the vicinity of Douglas Avenue, is one of four neighborhoods in New York City where waste transfer stations handle more than 75 percent of the garbage generated daily in the five boroughs.

On. Sept. 4, marchers, including elected officials and community and environmental activists, marched along Douglas and through the surrounding neighborhood in support of a bill they believe would, if passed, reduce the noise, traffic and pollution associated with garbage trucks; and codify numerous workplace and safety regulations for workers who collect commercial waste in the city.

Intro. 1574, sponsored by Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn), would divide the city up into at least 20 zones, each of which would have one designated carter that would collect waste from all businesses in that one zone.

While the bill would not cap the amount of waste that could be processed, as some proposals have sought since 2014, marchers say passage would be a good start with immediate benefits.

Tok Michelle Oyewole of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance told the Chronicle in a telephone conversation that the impetus for the march was news that a vote is expected this fall.

In a statement issued after the march, she hammered home that Southeast Queens has “long borne a disproportionate burden of NYC’s waste disposal, along with the smells, respiratory problems, noise, and road damage.” Oyewole believes commercial waste zones will successfully regulate garbage truck routes.

The march began at Detective Keith Williams Park on Liberty Avenue and swung north on 175th Street before turning left to cover five blocks along Douglas — between waste collection and sorting facilities on both sides of the street.

“The commercial waste industry has gone unchecked for far too long ...,” Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) said in the EJA statement. “Implementing commercial waste zones will drastically reduce truck traffic and raise the bar for safety standards that will improve the quality of life for workers and make our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), chairman of the Committee on Environmental Protection, also is a supporter

“For too long, Southeast Queens residents have been blighted by asthma and other respiratory illnesses because of an unfair waste system that’s brought a disproportionate share of greenhouse gases to the area,” Constantinides said. “Establishing waste equity and creating commercial waste zones are the first steps in getting environmental justice for these communities, who rightfully have had enough.”

Francisco Rivera, a Royal Waste Services driver and Teamsters Local 813 member, said the community also will benefit from the greater worker protections in the bill.

“Private carting workers are tired of the long hours and having to drive all over the city to complete our routes,” he said in an email. “It’s a hard job if you are union and impossible if you are non-union. We want commercial waste zones so we can have short routes that make sense, like the Department of Sanitation, and so our rights will be protected.”

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