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NEW YORK, OCTOBER 2i, 1916
TRADE WASTE AND ASH REMOVAL SITUATION
Some Steps Which Have Been Taken—Rates Are
Sufficient Only to Reimburse City for Cost of Service
By HON. WILLIAM A. PRENDERGAST
THE terni "trade waste" has been
defined as "material resulting from
the prosecution of any business, trade
or industry conducted for profit."
Whether the city should collect and dis¬
pose of this "trade waste" at the expense
of the taxpayers or whether this shouUl
be done at the expense of those pro¬
ducing it, has been much discussed. In
many of its forms it can be disposed of
at a profit to the factories and other
sources from which it emanates. In some
office buildings the janitor service for
the entire year is paid from the sale
of waste paper. The waste must be
graded and baled before it can be sold,
but there is a regular market value for it
after this sorting has been done.
Early in 1912 a committee was ap¬
pointed to study the final disposition of
garbage, ashes and city refuse. This
committee consisted of George IMcAn-
cny, President of Manhattan; John Pur¬
roy Mitchel, President of the Board of
Aldermen ; and George Cromwell, Presi¬
dent of the Borough of Richmond.
In January, 1913, after a preliminary
report was presented by this committee,
$5,000 was appropriated for the purpose
of engaging experts and for other neces¬
sary expenditures in connection with
this work, of which $3,937.52 was used.
This latter amount included Commis¬
sioner Fetherston's trip to Europe to
investigate conditions and systems there.
As a result of these investigations, in
July, 1913, contracts were approved for
the final disposal of ashes and rubbish
in Manhattan, Bronx and Brooklyn for
a term of three years; and this year
new bids were advertised as the City
had found that the old contracts were
Injunction Applied For.
In 1915, the company that had con¬
tracted for the final disposition in the
Boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx,
of aslies, street sweepings and rubbish,
applied to the courts for an injunction
restraining the authorities of the city
from dumping upon the scows what the
company designated as "trade waste"
as distinguished from household rubbish.
The decision in the lower courts in favor
of the contractors was modified in the
Appellate Division to read that the City
of New York, etc, "is hereby enjoined
and restrained . . . from delivering,
dumping or depositing upon the scows
or other transporting conveyances of
the plaintiffs, material (other than ashes,
street sweepings and rubbish as those
words are specifically defined in the said
contract . . . ) which is collected
froiTi the department stores, factories,
business establishments and buildings,
no portions of which are used as dwell¬
ings or residences by other than care¬
takers . . ."
Terms of Contract.
In the contract the terms "ashes,"
"street sweepings" and "rubbish" re¬
ferred to by the court are defined as
en Wherever the term "ashes" is
used in this contract it shall be taken
H0.\. WILLIAM A. PRENDERGAST.
to mean: Steam ash, cinders, coal
and wood ashes, sawdust, floor
sweepings, broken glass, broken
crockery, oyster and clam shells, tin
cans and discarded paving and build¬
ing material from the various city
departments and bureaus.
(2) Wherever the term "street
sweepings" is used in this contract^
it shall be taken to mean the accuinu-
lation of dirt and litter collected
from the pavements in the process
oT cleaning, the sweepings from side¬
walks and areas, and the materials
removed from the sewer catch
Definition of "Rubbish."
(3) Wherever the term "rubbish"
is used in this contract it shall be
taken to mean the general house¬
hold rubbish other than ashes and
garbage, including bottles, paper,
pasteboard, rags, mattresses, worn-
out furniture, old clothes, old shoes,
leather and rubber scrap, carpets,
tobacco stems, straw and excelsior,
plants, shrubs, evergreens and grass.
The Street Cleaning Commissioner in
his report of April 25, 1916. states that
"the materials from distinctly business
buildings which cannot be delivered on
the contractors' scows will consist main¬
ly of boxes, barrels, packing cases,
crates, wood, etc. Private business
hotises have, therefore, been required to
deliver such classes of materials to other
dumps or disoose of them by some other
means than delivery at the dumps owned
or operated by the city. Practically this
will mean that the city will be called
unon to appropriate ftmds necessary for
tlie disposal of other classes of trade
waste for which a reduction was made
in the 1916 budget approximating $200,000
following the order then in force is.^ued
bv Justice Whitaker of the Supreme
Court. July 23. 1915."
On June 30, 1916 a resolution was pass¬
ed by the Board of Estimate, adopting
recommendation "A" of the report of the
.Department of Street Cleaning—"That
the city discontinue the collection of
such trade waste as may now be re¬
moved by city vehicles from distinctively
business buildings." Very recently an
application was made for a mandamus to
compel the Street Cleaning Commis¬
sioner to remove "steam ashes" from the
Temple Bar Building in Brooklyn. This
was denied by Judge Blackmar on the
ground that it had not been shown that
the city is compelled to remove steam
ashes from public office buildings (Peo¬
ple ex rel Leggett vs. Fetherston).
Suit by Department Store.
hi a suit brought in 1903 by a large
department store to compel the Com¬
missioner of Street Cleaning to remove
materials falling under the definition of
"trade waste," it was decided that he is
not bound to remove trade waste,
whether in the form of ashes, garbage or
any other kind of refuse matter. Some¬
what later an investigation was made
by the Merchants' Association of this
city relative to the practice of other
towns, which developed the fact that the
cities of Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chi¬
cago, St. Louis, St. Paul, Cleveland and
Buffalo do not remove ashes and refuse
from factories, and in some cases limit
the amount of domestic ashes carted
away at the public expense.
New Plan Opposed.
Despite the evident injustice to the
general taxpayers, and that the usual
practice of the large cities is to charge
for the collection and disposition of
"trade waste," the new plan is bitterly
opposed by commercial interests. Con¬
tentions are made that all businesses are
not affected alike, as for a time at least
It is proposed to continue to remove the
waste from businesses conducted in tene¬
ment houses, etc.
However, as the bill which makes pos¬
sible the charges contemplated was ap¬
proved by the Board of Estimate prior
to its presentation to the Legislature
early in 1915, it is presumed that the ad¬
vantages and disadvantages of the new
plan were thoroughly considered. The
rates proposed are sufficient only to re¬
imburse the city for the cost of the serv¬
ice it is to render, so it appears there can
be no reasonable objection on that score.
What the Commissioner Said.
For the purposes of defining the issues
in the matter of general policv, Com¬
missioner Fetherston recommends:
"B"—That the city charge private
cartmen the cost of receiving at the
dnmns and disposing of trade waste
(excluding that kind of materials
affected by the injunction) from dis¬
tinctively business buildings, the fol¬
lowing rates during 1916:
Cents per cubic yard
(Trunk Capacity Basis)
Borough Ashes' Rubbish
Manhattan .............23 .05
The Bronx..............25 .05
Brooklyn ...............47 02
This the citv has power to do under
Chapter 500 of the Laws of 1915. amend¬
ing section 542 of the Citv Charter.