The City of New York has a lot of trash – an estimated 12,000 tons a day. With no City landfills or incinerators, it all has to be transported out of town. Moving the vast amounts of waste through the city’s crowded streets is time consuming and costly. In 2016, the city adopted a new plan with a logistics twist to handle the daily challenge of trash.

As people wind their way from turnpikes to highways and across bridges to local streets on their travels to various sections of the City of New York, nonnatives, or those with less experience, must wonder how anything gets done? The volume of traffic existing at almost any time of the day, envelopes you, often times overwhelmingly so. One can only imagine how New Yorkers feel as they make their way on daily errands or to work, or recreation, and back. Eventually, you realize that you must persevere as they do.
New York is reportedly the third most densely populated city in the world. With an area of 302.6 square miles and a population of over 8.5 million, New York’s density is calculated to be more than 28,000 people per square mile. This level, if even closely relating to reality, can create staggering logistics problems for the people who live there as well as those supporting them. Moving goods to and from the city can be a challenge.

Containerization of Trash

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration has taken a new approach to handling the logistics of the City’s trash. In 2016 the City inked a plan under which four new marine waste transfer stations would be built and five rail stations activated to move nearly all the city’s residential and more of the commercial garbage by rail or barge. The result tractor-trailer trucks and sanitation vehicles will travel six million less miles.

Population density of this magnitude can also have a profound impact on City public services. As a result, segments of the intermodal cargo transportation industry have become involved, working with the City to relieve one of the most critical pressures, public sanitation, specifically the collection of garbage.

Last the Bloomberg administration unveiled a Department of Sanitation (DSNY) “2016 Strategic Plan” which outlined 12 goals and 46 strategies for handling waste. A cornerstone of the new DSNY blueprint was adopting a “logistics” approach to the process.

A review of the City’s Department of Sanitation, the DSNY, indicates that it operates 59 district sanitation areas. To accomplish this, they employ approximately 7,300 workers. The DSNY dispatches over 2,200 collection trucks along with collection teams that provide regularly scheduled curbside recycling and garbage/trash collection from households, public schools, and certain non-profit organizations. In addition, numerous businesses including hotels and restaurants and some of the busiest international airports and marine terminals contract with private operators to handle their collections.

The collection and disposition of trash is a critical element of the daily mission of both the City and its business community. When fully operational the containerization program from the trash collection sites is said to include up to 48,000 containers, approximately 19,200,000 lbs of trash per year. The complexity of this immense effort has created a unique cooperation between New York City’s Sanitation Department, entities of the Port of New York/New Jersey and a network including intra-port water transportation resources and cargo handling equipment experts.

The development of this cooperation has been ongoing over a four-year period and will continue for a period of time until the completion of all of the four trash collection sites being constructed by DSNY. City staff and consulting teams including equipment experts, have collaborated to create the design of high tech, multi-stage trash collection facilities at four waterfront locations around the city.

The system that has been devised as a four-part cooperation:

  1. A combination of the local collection system at residences and business sites using up 2,230 trucks.
  2. The creation of automated trash handling systems at four major collection sites.
  3. Development of an intra-port water transportation system from the collection sites to an intermodal interchange at one of New York’s most active marine terminals, NYCT. (New York Container Terminal).
  4. The use of NYCT’s container handling and inland rail transportation connection for inland disposition.

DSNY Collection Sites

Two of the DSNY collection sites have been in full operation, two are under construction. The system that has been developed includes a relatively straight forward flow of the trash received. Much of the equipment that is now employed, however, is high tech and extremely effective.

AJOT in the company of representatives of the manufacturers supplying the heavy equipment to the DSNY visited one of the active sites. A supervisor for Covanta, a contracted management entity, is on site at all times.

Kunz cranes work the barges, cycling containers on and off.
Kunz cranes work the barges, cycling containers on and off.

Trash continues to be collected at the source (residential and business) as usual and carried to the new facility. The trucks are weighed in and proceed to the internal dump site, an overhead platform about 15’ above the main trash receiving hall. As the trash is dumped from the trucks to the floor below, large front-end loaders work to distribute it into piles for movement to prepositioned containers located about fifteen feet below the receiving hall. Front-end loaders dump the trash into open top 12x20’x8’ steel containers specially designed for this use. A combination of automated tamping, front end loaders and a rubber tired bucket crane continuously compact the trash in the containers. Eventually, with hopefully the maximum capacity achieved, one last effort is made to tamp down the trash with an automated tamping device, before the container is automatically sealed. Once the containers are loaded and lids locked, they are automatically moved to the outside of the buildings where they are positioned under the cranes.

The container moving, tamping and locking design is provided by Accurate, owned by Waste Quip. Once the container is sealed by the Lidder, they are air and water tight. When the containers are returned to the site, Lidder unlocks the lid and holds it for the next placement. The four corner castings have openings to facilitate the cranes lifting each container through the 90-degree rotation of the spreaders twist lock mechanism. The unique rear door design of the containers utilizes an automatic locking mechanism which affords dumping of the containers with the truck operator remaining in the cab of the vehicle.

The dockside designs will be similar at each of the four facilities. They can receive up to two barges at a time.

All of the cranes, were part of a competitive bid process with the DSNY. They are contracted by Mi-Jack Products, a privately owned company whose headquarters and manufacturing are in a Southside suburb of Chicago since 1955. The company specializes in heavy lift equipment for the transportation industry. The cranes are being produced by Austrian manufacturer Kunz. The cranes were fabricated, delivered, erected and will be supported by the Austrian crane company. Eight cranes have been ordered, and six have been delivered. The cranes will be capable of lifting 30 ton containers with a maximum lift height of up to 50 feet.

In the Port of New York, New York Container Terminal, NYCT, will handle trash container barges from Queens and Manhattan collection centers. NYCT has installed two Konecranes for this work. With this approach, each facility is designed to handle up to three barges per day and the empty containers returning can be placed in position to be reloaded.

Kunz is a privately-owned company founded in 1932. Kunz America, Inc. is located in Raleigh, North Carolina with responsibility for sales, installation and service. In North America, Kunz is recognized for its attention to detail and robust overhead bridge crane design. Kunz has product located in ports and intermodal terminals throughout the world.

Kunz will be installing two new cranes across the river from NYCT at the still developing Elizabeth trash container site that will handle containers from two Brooklyn collection sites.

A total of eight cranes will have been installed by Kunz for this entire project.