Comment of The Real Estate Board Of New York to the Department of Sanitation on the Proposed Rule that Would Require Certain Buildings to Submit a Building Waste Management Plan

Zachary Steinberg

Vice President Policy & Planning

May 27, 2020

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The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) is the City’s leading real estate trade association representing commercial, residential, and institutional property owners, builders, managers, investors, brokers, salespeople, and other organizations and individuals active in New York City real estate. REBNY thanks the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) for the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule that would require certain buildings to develop waste management plans.

New York City stands apart from other municipalities in its waste management, largely a result of its scale and city design. With the country’s biggest population, NYC produces 14 million tons of waste a year in a hyper dense built environment that lacks alley space. Consequently, buildings are often forced to temporarily lay waste curbside until it can be collected. Understanding the garbage bags on sidewalks affects New Yorkers’ quality of life, impeding pedestrian traffic and posing potential health risks, REBNY supports the departments in their search for a solution to reduce the presence of semi-exposed waste in the public domain.

The proposed rule would require a waste management plan for 1) new multiple dwellings with 150+ units, 2) commercial buildings that either alter or enlarge their physical design to be classified as a multiple dwelling building and have 150+ units, and 3) commercial buildings that renovate 50% or more of the floor area to be classified as a multiple dwelling building and have 150+ units.

REBNY supports the department’s commitment to improving public health through better waste management. To ensure buildings can effectively help DSNY achieve its goal, the department needs to provide further clarity within the rule.

The rule would require owners and managers to estimate the full amount of refuse of fully occupied building as part of the waste management plan, yet waste generation varies greatly between units. The DSNY should provide guidance as to how owners and managers should calculate the maximum refuse for a fully occupied building. In doing so, REBNY encourages the department to consider different factors that may impact waste generation, such as the season, socioeconomic status of residents, and the state of the economy.1 Though DSNY has not included those factors in its waste analysis reports, other parts of the cities have confirmed their impact on waste generation.2

The plan would also require owners and managers to indicate storage for refuse, recyclables, and organic waste at 150% capacity of expected accumulated waste between regular collections. To do so, DSNY will need to provide guidance on how to determine expected waste generation level – different from the maximum requested as part of the plan.

Finally, the proposed rule affords the department 25 days to review the plan and provide details for correction if the plan is rejected, but there is no obligation to confirm the plans are approved. REBNY encourages DSNY to inform owners and managers if the department accepts their plans so building development may move forward with certainty of compliance.

Thank you for the consideration of these points.

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1 Denafas, G. (2014) “Seasonal variation of municipal solid waste generation and composition in four East European cities.” Resources, Conservation, and Recycling 89 (1) 22-30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2014.06.001

2 Zia, A. et all (2017) “Influence of Income Level and Seasons on Quantity and Composition of Municipal Solid Waste: A Case Study of the Capital City of Pakistan.” Sustainability 9 (9) 1568. https://doi.org/10.3390/su9091568

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Zachary Steinberg
Vice President, Policy & Planning
Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY)
(212) 616-5227