Designing Waste Culture Zero Waste Action Plan, New York City

Currently, the New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) collects 12,552 tons of residential trash each day. Over 200 private carters collect an equivalent amount of commercial trash, covering the city through inefficient and overlapping routes. These private carters are frequently accused of abusive labor practices and are responsible for nearly all of garbage truck related injuries and fatalities. Once waste is collected, it’s taken to transfer stations, primarily in Brooklyn and the South Bronx. From there, huge quantities of money, energy, and infrastructure go toward transporting waste great distances.

In most areas of NYC, waste is not dealt with in the neighborhood that produces it. The city has made attempts to increase waste sorting at a local level, but initiatives like the 2013 Organics Pilot Program have been largely unsuccessful due to lack of participation and education. Our proposal seeks to localize NYC’s waste sorting, collection, and management. By changing the way NYC interacts with its waste, we hope to change the way that NYC thinks about its waste. We believe that a change in waste culture, and an ultimate waste reduction, will have repercussions throughout NYC’s built environment, changing streetscapes, greenspaces, and infrastructure.

In collaboration with Christine Pan.