Crain's New York Morning Insider: Recycling reprieve for food businesses by Chris Bragg

Crain's New York
Crain's New York
Morning Insider: Recycling reprieve for food businesses
Chris Bragg
Erik Engquist
Andrew J. Hawkins
Andrew J. Hawkins
12/09/2014

Recycling reprieve for food businesses

City businesses in the food industry are required by Local Law 146 to recycle their organic waste beginning July 1, 2015. But the same law, passed last year, includes a provision that is likely to exempt every one of those businesses indefinitely.

The provision essentially postpones the law's effective date until food establishments have an affordable facility nearby that will recycle their organic waste. The law defines that as "sufficient capacity within a 100-mile radius of the city" that will process the waste at a cost that is competitive with sending it to landfills or incinerators.

Hopes among the law's supporters have dimmed since Peninsula Composting Group was forced to shut its $20 million food-waste operation in Wilmington, Del., in November. It was by far the largest facility of its kind near the city. Waste-industry insiders had anticipated the shutdown because nearby residents complained vociferously about its odor, and regulators soon realized that the plant was a mess—so much so that its reopening is uncertain.

The Bloomberg administration officials who supported the bill weren't necessarily counting on the Wilmington site. Instead, they expected that other facilities would open, given that the law all but guaranteed them customers by including in its mandate all arenas, caterers, food manufacturers and wholesalers, food retailers and food-service establishments that are large or part of a large chain. That hasn't happened. (Read more here.) —EE

TLC mum on universal e-hail app

The Taxi and Limousine Commission is mum so far on Manhattan Councilman (and software designer) Ben Kallos' bill to create a universal e-hail app for yellow cabs. The bill would require the TLC to contract out the creation of the new app, which could allow popular apps like Uber and Lyft to extend their business to the city's coveted fleet of 13,437 yellow taxis.

But the TLC is noncommittal, bordering on nonsupportive. When asked about the bill, a spokesman for the regulatory agency issued a statement that ignored it, but implied that it was premature, if not unnecessary.

"We've had a very successful e-hail pilot program with a number of qualified participants, which has been serving passengers well," he said. "We've extended the program so we can continue to learn about the e-hail dynamic while we craft a more permanent regulatory framework that maintains crucial consumer protections while challenging the marketplace to continually adapt to the riding public's needs."

In other words, don't call us, we'll call you.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Kallos said he sees the bill "as complementing efforts to modernize fairly, not conflicting with them." She said Mr. Kallos consulted with the TLC before introducing the legislation and would work with the agency on a solution. —AJH

More politics and business news

After ethics panel’s shutdown, loopholes live on in Albany [NY Times]
The council's vanishing property tax commission [Capital NY]

Issue: 
Technology