Reynoso, Levin Fight Environmental Classism at Rally


After spending almost 10 years trying to pass legislation that would even the playing field in where waste is handled, multiple Brooklyn lawmakers pleaded on the steps of City Hall Tuesday to call for the City Council to take action.

City Council Sanitation Committee Chair Antonio Reynoso (D-Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bushwick) was joined by co-sponsor Stephen Levin (D-Northern Brooklyn, Boerum Hill) and other lawmakers and community activists to call for the passage of Intro 157, a piece of legislation that would broaden the scope of waste management

The bill is seeking to clean up the communities of North Brooklyn, South Bronx and Southeast Queens, which are the sites of 26 of the 38 waste transfer stations in the city.

City Councilman Antonio Reynoso

Reynoso said it’s no coincidence that these communities were chosen to host a majority of the city’s waste. He claims it stems from a long line of institutional racism against people of color and low-incomes.

“We know that racism exists in all facets of our lives,” he said, “Environmental racism is something we need to pay attention to.”

Reynoso said the legislation will not only combat the disproportionate amount of waste in marginalized communities, but encourage good business practices among those who collect the waste.

North Brooklyn possesses 38 percent of the city’s waste processing capacity. Reynoso said this has caused children in North Brooklyn to develop repertory illnesses.

This bill will coincide with the city’s plan to introduce a zone-based system that will aim to reform the way waste is collected in the city. The plan will divide the city into areas that will be divided amongst private waste collectors.

“The passage of Intro 157 is a momentous achievement in the fight for environmental justice and the reform of our City’s private waste management system,” Reynoso said, “Currently, low-income communities of color handle a staggeringly disproportionate amount of our City’s waste.  Residents are exposed to dangerous truck traffic, elevated air pollution, and hazardous environmental impacts— contributing to historical inequities in resource distribution along economic and racial lines. Intro 157 will finally deliver environmental justice to frontline communities and ensure that no other neighborhood suffers the same fate, while setting a historic precedent for the fair share distribution of burdensome and polluting facilities in the City of New York. This is a first, crucial step toward reforming the City’s commercial carting industry.”

City Councilman Stephen Levin

Levin said he is thrilled to see  the progress towards the passage of waste reform after fighting for change for years. “This is a day I didn’t know for sure we’d ever see,” he said.

Levin criticized the waste industry for careless practices, and applauded the community organizers that came to rally for change within their communities.

“This is a time of reckoning for an industry that routinely mistreats its workers and has for decades shouldered a handful of communities with the burden of processing waste for an entire city,” Levin said, “It’s time to put an end to this injustice. Int. 157 is a sensible and measured first step to bring relief to Southeast Queens, North Brooklyn, and the South Bronx. It will also protect other neighborhoods from becoming overburdened in the future as our city’s population grows. I’m proud to join Speaker Johnson and Council Member Reynoso in their fight to pursue justice, protect workers, and stand firmly on the side of the people.”

Levin said the fight will continue beyond Intro. 157. He said it can be a stepping stone towards more reform for disadvantaged communities.

“We have to work towards all kinds of justice,” he said.