At home, your trash gets picked up by the city. But what about at your local bodega or favorite restaurant? Who picks that trash up? Where does it go? And why should we care?
Commercial waste in NYC is a complicated, dirty, and dangerous industry. Over 200 companies compete to pick up the 5.5 million tons of trash NYC businesses create each year. Because few rules control the commercial waste industry, companies are competing in a race to the bottom to haul waste at the cheapest price. This leaves industry workers vulnerable to low wages and dangerous working conditions. Workers transport it all to transfer stations in Brooklyn, Queens, and the South Bronx, where low-income communities of color bear the environmental burden of processing all this waste. On top of it all, up to 90% of this trash could be recycled—but only 25% of it is!
CUP collaborated with ALIGN, Transform Don’t Trash NYC, and animator Cole Hannan to shed light on the dirty secrets behind NYC’s commercial waste. This short animation follows a discarded milk jug on its journey from trashcan to landfill, exposing the impacts the current commercial waste system has on workers, community members, and the environment. The video also features the faces of real people engaged in the fight for a cleaner, more equitable commercial waste system, including youth from the community development non-profit The Point in the South Bronx and former commercial waste workers.