NYLCV Testifies at City Council Hearing on Intro. 1942 & 1943

Carlos Castell Croke delivered the following testimony at the City Council Sanitation Committee hearing

Good afternoon. My name is Carlos Castell Croke, and I am a representative from the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV). NYLCV represents over 30,000 members in New York City and we are committed to advancing a sustainability agenda that will make our people, our neighborhoods, and our economy healthier and more resilient. I would like to thank Chair Reynoso, Chair Cabrera, and Councilmember Powers for the opportunity to testify today.

In 2015 Mayor de Blasio made a pledge that excited environmentalists and citizens alike. This pledge was to reduce the waste we send to landfills by 90% by the year 2030. Yet here we are, five years later, having made little progress toward the Zero Waste goal. Now, due to the COVID-19 recession, the Mayor has suspended curbside collection of organic waste and is proposing to cut funding for community composting.

While these cuts are upsetting to see, we understand that the financial strain on our city must be addressed. However, we would like to use these cuts as an opportunity to reevaluate, revamp, and expand our waste diversion programs so that we come out of this crisis ready to achieve Zero Waste by the original 2030 deadline.

Intros 1942 and 1943 would be a crucial step in the journey to our Zero Waste goals. By establishing three community drop-off sites per community district, New York City will be able to continue its composting and recycling efforts even as curbside collection is suspended. Bringing these recycling opportunities to every community district is a crucial step towards a more equitable waste diversion program, and we are pleased that these bills would provide opportunities to recycle materials such as textiles and electronic waste in addition to organic waste.

It is also crucial that we maintain the recycling culture we have already established. As we saw when the metal, glass, and plastic recycling program was suspended during the post-9/11 recession, when recycling programs are cut, participation rates struggle to recover when the programs are reinstituted. Therefore we are also asking that the Council restore $7 million (dollars) in the FY21 budget for existing community collection sites for organic waste. This would not only provide an outlet for New Yorkers to continue to recycle their organic waste, but also ​maintain dedicated composting personnel at GrowNYC, Big Reuse, the Lower East Side Ecology Center, and the other groups that have operated these essential community-based programs for years.

Our goal of Zero Waste to landfills by 2030 is an achievable one, but we must make decisions and establish programs that work towards it, not cut the programs necessary for us to progress. We urge the council to pass Into 1942 and Intro 1943, and reinstate the $7 million (dollars) for community composting in the budget to help New Yorkers continue to recycle their organic waste.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.