New York’s Garbage Is Soon Going to Be Good for the Earth

street garbage

There are a lot of us in New York City and, as people, we make a lot of trash. Who among us has not paused mid-walk, surveyed the ground at our feet, and said: “Gross.”

Picking up our garbage requires gargantuan effort. So, thankfully, the Department of Sanitation is in the process of making the collection fleet that does the work for us somewhat greener.

In partnership with a Quèbec-based company called Effenco, DSNY is testing “start/stop” technology that is designed to significantly cut fuel use and emissions–a brilliant move, considering that the driving pattern of garbage trucks, more than most vehicles, is constant starting and stopping.

According to a representative from Effenco, the results of the New York City test truck are still confidential but, as expected, notable fuel savings and increased miles-per-gallon were recorded. DSNY said they will likely try the retro-fitting technology on an actual collection route this fall. They added, “The Department is committed to a sustainable future, and is exploring this technology as a way of continuing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

You might not have known, because not many people spend time thinking about the agency that collects our trash, but DSNY has a fairly extensive “Sustainable Fleet Operations” program. Since 2005, the department has reduced lots of bad things we don’t want in our air like Particulate Matter (by 90 percent) Nitrogen Oxides (by 81 percent) and its “light-duty fleet” fuel emissions have been cut by 50 percent. DSNY was also the first city agency to use ultra-low sulfur diesel starting in 2001.

A representative from Effenco said they are planning a press conference announcing the start/stop truck technology with DSNY in October.

Yes, our city may be garbage-laden, but it’s nice to know the people who pick up after us are trying to make the process less filthy. And we can also do our part; next time you’re out and about and want to throw away all the junk in your purse, keep an eye out for one of those Big Belly Solar cans that DSNY started to install around the city earlier this summer. Compared to the old 35 gallon wire bins, the compacting containers can hold 150 gallons of trash. We already live in tiny places. Now our trash can, too.


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