This story is the first in a five-part series
on waste in the city.

Garbage is one of the only things that unites all New Yorkers. Everyone creates it—yet few people want to think about what happens next.

Since the Fresh Kills landfill closed on Staten Island in 2001, New York has shipped every single ton of refuse outside its borders to be buried or burned. The complicated process behind this has inspired debate among city officials, environmental activists, academics, business owners and local residents for years. Almost everyone agrees that the current system has become environmentally and financially unsustainable.

On April 22, Earth Day, Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to change it.

“The whole notion of a society based on constantly increasing waste and then putting it into a truck or a barge or a train and sending it somewhere else – you dig a big hole in the ground, you put the waste in the ground – that is outrageous and is outdated and we’re not going to be party to it,” he said at a press conference in Hunts Point, one of the city’s waste transfer station hubs.

The mayor pledged to send zero waste to landfills by 2030, a 90 percent reduction based on 2005 levels. This ambitious goal will require one of the most significant shifts in garbage policy that New York has ever seen.

A four-month City Limits investigation looked at all aspects of the city’s solid waste management system and found steep challenges at every turn. While de Blasio’s OneNYC proposals identify many of these same issues, his ideas also open up many questions.

Read the full article, New York’s Garbage System Faces Mounting Challenges of Cost, Carbon and Equity, via CityLimits.org