NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A battle is brewing over garbage in New York City.

Specifically, changing the rules on collecting a big chunk of it.

There’s big business in dumpsters on the sidewalks in front of stores.

An estimated three million tons of commercial trash gets carted away every year in New York City by private hauling companies. About 90 of them exist.

A CBS2 investigation found drivers with private companies running red lights, speeding and going the wrong way on streets, prompting calls for reform.

Now some big changes are coming. The New York City Council is creating 20 zones, putting a limit of no more than three hauling companies to operate in each. There’ll be stricter safety and environmental standards. It’s hoped it will lead to a 50% reduction in city miles traveled by private garbage trucks and fewer accidents.

“The reforms to the private sanitation industry will improve the lives of every resident of this city. Our air will be cleaner, our streets will be safer, workers will be protected and businesses will have reliable sanitation services,” said councilman Antonio Reynoso.

“We will vote to make our air cleaner, our streets safer and provide businesses with more transparent pricing,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

Businesses along Arthur Avenue in the Bronx told CBS2’s Dave Carlin they’re concerned prices could rise. They worry having fewer companies might be bad.

“Definitely need to have more choices,” a man named Louis said.

Some who work in the carting industry say what the council voted for could put smaller companies out of business and kill jobs.

“I started 26 years ago making $8 an hour. I get good medical and good benefits for the family, take care of my family and myself. For them to come here with a bill for cleaner air, come on. It’s going to hurt a lot people here,” said Alan Holmes, shop steward of Laborers Local Union 108.

Some merchants say commercial trash pickup is a headache and they have a different idea for making it work.

“I think the city should pay for it and then just tax us for it,” one person told Carlin.

“You want the city clean,” one woman said.

“As long as they’re picking up the trash,” one woman said.

“As long as they’re picking up the trash,” one man said.

So what matters to some neighbors: As long as the trash somehow disappears, that’s good enough for them.


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