Tag Archives: department of sanitation

Stalking Garbage

Chasing TruckBy Clare Trapasso

The garbage truck speeds up and I begin to run. I race down the sidewalk of the Lower East Side weaving through pedestrians. I’m stopped by a light, cars zoom by in front of me and the thundering truck turns left a block away from where I am standing. I should have known they were trying to lose me after the driver flashed me a sardonic smile and waved. I just didn’t think he’d slam on the gas pedal so forcefully .

I’m trying to follow the trail of trash by foot, train and taxi — from the moment New York City Department of Sanitation workers pick up the garbage on the curb outside of my apartment until it reaches its final destination, the Covanta Essex Facility in Newark, New Jersey. There it will be stuffed into a boiler and used to fuel the production of electricity.

My journey started around 7:40 a.m. when a garbage truck rumbled by. Johnny, a thin fellow with a thick, brown mustache, gets out of the white Department of Sanitation vehicle and starts hauling the plump, black garbage bags over his shoulder to the truck. When I tell him I plan to follow the truck on foot, he seems relieved to have some company. He’s been doing this for over 20 years

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Recycling Theft

Recycling scavengerBy Anne Noyes

One night last fall Carmen Cognetta was driving in search of a parking spot in the East 90s but kept getting held up by slow-moving trucks in front of him. The trucks were lurching down side streets, stopping every few yards to allow their passengers to jump out and pick up huge bundles of paper and cardboard that had been placed curbside for recycling.

Cognetta, who serves as counsel to the City Council’s Sanitation and Solid Waste Management Committee, knew the trucks weren’t supposed to be taking the paper. By law, the City of New York Department of Sanitation owns all recyclables that have been placed on the curb for pickup.

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Dead RatBy Levi Davis

Rat teeth are almost as strong as steel. Rats were once pitted against dogs in fights in the back rooms of bars. Rats destroy food, spread disease, and have been known to bite people. Notorious gnawers, they are particularly attracted to wires. In his book “Rats,” Robert Sullivan says that rats cause up to 25 percent of all unsolved fire cases, 26 percent of electric-cable breaks, and 18 percent of phone cable disruptions.

Rats thrive on garbage in New York, which, according to the Department of Sanitation, collects 12,000 tons of refuse per day. There is no reliable census of rats, though some estimates for New York City have gone as high as 30 million, up from 250,000 at mid-century. The rat population across America is believed to be growing slightly faster than the human population.

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Recycling Laws Often Unenforced

Can on the streetBy Sari Krieger

Kader Aribou, manager of the Little Atlas café on West 4th Street, said his establishment hasn’t recycled anything in the year it has been open, yet the city has only fined the café once, with a $100 ticket. The fine was for not recycling cardboard, but Aribou found the notice of violation confusing because it didn’t mention recycling specifically. “They said there are days when you need to put certain things out,” Aribou said. “But it didn’t say I had to recycle.”

New York City law says all residents, schools, institutions, agencies, and commercial businesses must recycle. But some question how well the New York City Department of Sanitation enforces this law.

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