New York City-based New Yorkers for Responsible Waste Management (NYRWM) has announced the appointment of Kendall Christiansen as its executive director.
Ben Velocci, president of NYRWM and principal of Bronx, New York-based Avid Carting, says, “NYRWM is delighted to have Kendall as our first executive director. His local and national experience, knowledge, perspective and reputation in our field is unique and will expand the local waste management industry’s ability to be well-represented in the public dialogue over how this vital system should be organized in the 21st century.”
NYRWM’s member companies are engaged in collecting, processing and managing solid waste, recyclables, organics and other materials generated by New York City’s commercial, institutional and industrial sectors. They also process and manage some of what is collected by the Department of Sanitation (DSNY).
Organized in 2016, the primary focus of NYRWM is to address the city’s proposed plan to restructure the commercial waste industry into zones to be serviced by a single company, a concept known as franchising.
DSNY estimates it could take six or more years to plan and implement a new structure, which effectively freezes the status quo in place at a time when NYRWM says the industry is working cooperatively with the city to increase recycling rates and initiate the diversion of organics.
Since adoption of the Trade Waste Act in 1996, the industry has been regulated by the Business Integrity Commission. The city’s long-time practice of setting rate caps has continued along with a two-year limit on contracts to enhance customer choice. In recent years, the waste industry has experienced significant consolidation, recommitted itself to safety for the public and its employees, is partnering with the city to improve commercial recycling and manage organic wastes differently, and pursuing numerous other initiatives aligned with the city’s goals, according to the NYRWM.
Velocci says, “As DSNY prepares to commit $8 million to study how to restructure waste management services, NYRWM is poised to present its ideas on how the city’s goals can be achieved without disrupting an entire industry, jeopardizing family-owned small businesses, threatening the livelihoods of hundreds of workers, and inevitably raising costs for our customers.”
The new Executive Director Christiansen comments, “I am honored to join NYRWM at this critical juncture in municipal policy discussions regarding the future of this essential industry. The administration’s stated intention of restructuring the existing competitive open-market system in search of uncertain benefits is already stifling investment, innovation and normal industry consolidation. New York’s 108,000 commercial businesses currently enjoy considerable choice and the benefits of competition among providers which generate better service and lower costs.”
Velocci adds, “Until now the benefits of customer choice and competition have vastly outweighed truck-related considerations, especially since private-sector waste collection trucks are less than one percent of citywide truck traffic, operate almost entirely at night when there is less traffic, and steadily becoming cleaner and safer.”
Christiansen previously served as manager of the New York City Chapter of the National Waste and Recycling Association. Since launching Gaia Strategies as a consulting practice in 1992, he has worked with companies in the field locally, nationally and in Canada.