Reducing commercial waste truck pollution

Report leads to New York City proposal to age out older trucks

EDF and the Business Integrity Commission (BIC) are working together to clean up health-damaging particulate emissions from two separate fleets of New York City's commercial waste diesel trucks, those collecting refuse from the city's commercial buildings and those picking up debris from construction sites. Private waste companies operate more than 8,000 trucks in New York City.

EDF and BIC commissioned a joint report [PDF] that showed trucks built after 2007 reduced particulate emissions, which have been known to cause respiratory problems, by as much as 95%.

The Mayor and City agencies have proposed an amendment to the City's Air Code that would require all trucks in these two fleets to comply with the EPA's 2007 particulate emissions standards on heavy-duty diesel trucks by 2020.

Waste truck

Private commercial waste trucks can be clean too.

Photo credit: New York City Department of Sanitation

Compliance can be achieved through replacement of these older trucks with new or used trucks that comply with the 2007 standard or retrofitting them to reduce harmful emissions.

The legislation also calls for a waiver for a maximum of five years for firms that can demonstrate financial hardship. We hope the City Council will vote on this amendment by the end of the year.

The City has agreed that the City-owned fleet of waste trucks, which collects refuse from residential buildings, will comply with the 2007 EPA diesel truck particulate standard within a few years. The amendment would bring all private collection trucks in line with City practice by the end of the decade.

The study, conducted by environmental consulting firm MJ Bradley & Associates, showed that these two commercial waste truck fleets contributed one-fifth of total particulate emissions from heavy-duty vehicles in New York City.

Adopting this amendment would have a large impact on the City's air quality, almost eliminating commercial waste trucks’ contribution to particulate emissions. This reduction will be the equivalent of removing 27,000 delivery trucks and 1,300 buses from New York City streets every year from 2020 to 2030.

Analysis of NYC waste trucks

Analysis of impact on city's pollution by commercial waste trucks