Three Reasons Why NYC Garbage Is Costly for Taxpayers

By Amelia Pang
Amelia Pang
Amelia Pang
Journalist
Amelia Pang is a New York-based, award-winning journalist. She covers local news and specializes in long-form, narrative writing. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and global studies from the New School. Subscribe to her newsletter: http://tinyletter.com/ameliapang
May 22, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

Trash collecting, it’s one of the jobs we all dislike yet it’s one of the most necessary jobs, as well as the most expensive for city taxpayers. New York City divides the business of trash between the Department of Sanitation and more than 250 waste hauling firms. The cost to taxpayers is $1.6 billion to haul 3.8 million tons of trash annually, or an average of about 10,000 tons daily, according to the Citizens Budget Commission. The private firms are paid $730 million annually to haul about 10,000 tons daily.

Here are three reasons why it’s so expensive: 

1. New York City is one of the few major cities that utilizes only general city revenue as its source of funding for trash collecting. Many cities such as Los Angeles charge residents a flat monthly or annual fee, which is typically collected through water bills.

2. New York City mostly relies on physical labor for collecting trash, which results in a high rate of injuries. Most other large cities use semi-automated machines to lift garbage into trucks. 

3. The city’s heavy reliance on the Department of Sanitation for snow cleanup is unusual compared to other large cities, and it generates high overtime costs.

Amelia Pang
Journalist
Amelia Pang is a New York-based, award-winning journalist. She covers local news and specializes in long-form, narrative writing. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and global studies from the New School. Subscribe to her newsletter: http://tinyletter.com/ameliapang