2007-10-19 / Letters

Wave Wrong On DOS Recycling Law

[This letter was written by a Public Information Officer for the New York City Department of Sanitation.]

Dear Editor,

The Wave's opinion item, 'Let Them Eat Cake,' (October 5) is both erroneous and misleading.

The commentary correctly states that the purpose of the law "…is meant to discourage businesses that bring out-of-state trucks to troll the collection routes in the middle of the night for recyclable paper before the regular Sanitation trucks get there," but then claims that "…regardless of what politicians tell you, the new law will only succeed in punishing the tired and hungry, the homeless and destitute, and, conveniently, the politically disenfranchised." What?

This law will deter individuals operating a motor vehicle from stealing recyclables from residential or commercial properties at curbside, but it will not target the homeless who clearly don't have the means to pay.

Why go after the thieves? Let there be no mistake, taking recyclables from curbside is illegal. There are legitimate vendors who are contracted by the city to handle both paper and metal/glass/plastic recyclables that are collected by the DSNY. These vendors pay for the right to handle it.

Here's what the new law does: It increases the civil fines from $100 to $2,000 for a first-time offender using a vehicle to illegally remove recyclables, and $5,000 for second and repeat offenders within a 12-month period. It also authorizes the Department to impound the offender's vehicle, similar to the Department's illegal dumping enforcement program, and it also authorizes Sanitation Police to arrest offenders.

You also ask, "Can a homeowner give somebody other than the city permission to take the recyclables without going through an unwieldy bureaucratic process to do so?" The law clearly states that in buildings with more than three dwellings, the building owner's authorization must be evidenced in writing and filed with the Sanitation Department.

Finally, you implore "Let's not give the Sanitation police any more weapons than they already have to torment our community's most destitute souls." DSNY's Sanitation Police are a hardworking unit of honorable men and women who impound illegal dumpers' vehicles and apprehend those who illegally dump on our city. They are dedicated to improving the quality of life in our city by keeping our streets clean and safe.


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