Mayor Bloomberg today announced the release of a Request for Proposals to build a state of the art facility to convert waste to clean energy as part of PlaNYC, the city’s ambitious sustainability agenda. The Request for Proposals asks private sector firms to submit plans for a pilot facility using reliable, cost-effective, sustainable and environmentally sound waste to clean energy technology, which will help the City meet its goal of doubling the amount of waste diverted from landfills, as Mayor Bloomberg committed to doing in January’s State of the City speech.
The facility must be located in New York City or within 80 miles of the city and would begin by processing a maximum of 450 tons of waste per day – the City currently processes approximately 10,000 tons of waste per day. The City will not provide any capital funding for the proposed facility and will pay a per ton fee to the operator of the facility. The City is seeking only the cleanest and latest waste-to-energy technologies, and the Request for Proposals specifically excludes conventional incineration or “mass burn” proposals.
“We are have the most comprehensive sustainability program in the nation to green our city, but we have go further,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “New Yorkers generate more than 10,000 tons of solid waste every day and too much of it ends up in landfills. Using less, and recycling more are the most effective ways to address the problem, but this project will help us determine if some of that waste can be converted to safe, clean energy to meet the City’s growing power needs.”
“There are technologies that have proven to be a success in countries around the world, and right here in New York City, we’re already converting sewage to clean energy that powers the treatment process,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway. “Converting solid waste to clean energy is the next logical step. Any proposal will have to pass rigorous environmental and community scrutiny to move forward, and we hope that as many viable proposals as possible are submitted for consideration.”
“The request for proposals for the development of a new and emerging solid waste management technology facility at a site in or near the City marks a significant step towards a more sustainable solid waste disposal policy for the City and complements our expanded recycling and composting efforts,” said Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty. “By implementing such a facility in the region, we will reduce the amount of waste we need to landfill, the distances we need to travel to disposal sites and total emissions into the environment.”
“Innovation is the key to achieving a greener, greater New York, and the waste-to-energy solicitation makes good environmental and economic sense,” said David Bragdon, Director of the Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability. “With the release of this RFP, we’re opening a door to improving how we meet the City’s needs, while working toward the air quality, climate change, energy and solid waste goals outlined in the Mayor’s sustainability agenda, PlaNYC.”
“The time has come for us to take a serious look at alternative waste to clean energy technologies for New York City,” said Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro. “There are technologies in use in this country and throughout the world which meet the qualifications being looked for under the RFP. I and my environmental engineer visited one. It was safe, and complied with all mandatory regional air pollution controls. The reality is, landfills are closing down, and common sense dictates that New York City needs to be ahead of the curve on this issue.”
“As the Chairperson of the New York City Council’s Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste, I believe that Mayor Bloomberg’s Request for Proposals for Conversion Technology, to develop a facility anywhere within the City or within 80 miles of the City, is both timely and integral to achieving the City’s vital goal of diminishing the impact of exporting our waste outside of the city, and addressing the injustice of siting solid waste infrastructure in low-income communities,” said Council Member Letitia James.
Proposals to build and operate the conversion facility are due by June 5, 2012. If the initial pilot is successful, the facility will be expanded to process 900 tons of waste per day.
The City will evaluate proposals based on the company’s experience with the proposed technology, the quality of their technical proposal and environmental compliance data and the commitment to environmental justice and community outreach plans.
New and Emerging Technologies Under Consideration
As part of the Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan, approved by vote of the City Council in 2006, the City has evaluated several new and emerging conversion technology facilities that use technologies such as anaerobic digestion, gasification, hydrolysis and other processes to cleanly convert waste into energy. These technologies are in wide commercial use internationally, including in Europe and Asia, and are being operated on a pilot basis in North America. The solicitation seeks proposals that use these and similar technologies, and excludes conventional “mass burn” waste to energy or conventional refuse derived fuel technologies.
“One critical way for cities to address environmental sustainability is to move away from traditional methods of dumping waste in landfill,” said Lord Mayor Clover Moore of Sydney, Australia. “In Sydney, we currently send all household waste to alternative waste treatment facilities which uses technology that includes anaerobic digestion. I congratulate the City of New York and Mayor Bloomberg on their new plan to reduce the amount of New York’s waste ending up in landfill. This is an important step in building a more sustainable city.”
Extensive Environmental Review
The Request for Proposals requires companies to provide detailed environmental data to be provided, including extensive emissions performance data and greenhouse gas reduction data that furthers PlaNYC’s goal of reducing citywide greenhouse gases by 30 percent and achieving the cleanest air of any U.S. city by 2030. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will evaluate all emissions data.
“There are tremendous environmental costs involved with New York City’s current handling of solid waste,” said Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “We need comprehensive solutions that address multiple problems, from rising tipping fees and fuel costs, to greenhouse gas emissions and overburdened communities. New waste conversion technologies, along with a robust recycling program, offer a real hope of meeting this environmental challenge in a cost-effective way.”
Commitment to Environmental Justice
The selection of a clean conversion technology facility will follow the environmental justice approach established in the City’s Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan, by ensuring borough equity in the siting of solid waste infrastructure. Proposals for a conversion technology facility must include a Public Participation Plan with meaningful opportunities for public involvement throughout the planning, approval, implementation, construction, testing and operation phases of the facility. Proposers also must include information regarding the location of municipal and solid waste management facilities and pollution sources in the vicinity of the site. This information will help inform the City’s evaluation of proposals.
The siting, construction and operation of the conversion facility will undergo extensive environmental and community oversight, including a City Environmental Quality Review and State Environmental Quality Review, as well as approvals from the State Department of Environmental Conservation.
New Waste Reduction Plan Part of PlaNYC
The Department of Sanitation currently collects more than 3 million tons of waste per year from residences and institutions and spends more than $300 million to export – primarily via truck traffic – the waste to landfills and facilities outside the of the city. Residential and institutional solid waste creates 728,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, much of which is attributable to methane generation from landfills that receive our waste.
The new Waste Reduction Plan will double the amount of waste the City diverts from landfills from 15 percent to 30 percent by 2017. The Plan contains a variety of initiatives to increase waste diversion, with two-thirds of these gains to come from increased waste reduction, reuse, composting and recycling initiatives, including the future expansion of the City’s curbside recycling program to additional plastics, expanding the number of public space recycling bins on City streets and providing new locations for residents to compost food waste.