Garbage Trucks Used for Snow Removal, Returning to Trash Collection as Soon as Possible
by Yehudit Garmaise
New Yorkers who are anxious to have their trash and recycling collected, should remember that the same equipment is used for both garbage collection and snow removal, which takes priority, said Belinda Mager, the director of communications at the City of New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY).
“First, we need to make sure streets stay accessible for emergency vehicles,” Mager told BoroPark 24. “Plus, we always prepare when we see the chance of snow or ice in the forecast, even if the forecast doesn’t end up coming to fruition.”
One way the DSNY prepares for potential or actual snowstorms involves transforming the city’s garbage collection trucks into snowplows: a process that may suspend or delay trash and recycling collection during ongoing snow operations.
After all the snow is removed from the city’s streets, trash collection is sometimes further delayed as the agency returns the city’s fleet of snowplows back into garbage trucks.
“We move back to trash collection operations as soon as we are able,” said Mager, who noted that DSNY workers have been busy clearing the streets of snow in 12-hour shifts since the big storm. “Additionally, the DSNY worked through two scheduled holidays that usually do not have any pick-ups scheduled: Lincoln’s Birthday and Presidents’ Day.”
“We are currently focusing on collection, and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we work to get it all done. But we are also watching the upcoming weather forecasts!”
After particularly voluminous snowfalls, like New York City has seen this month, for the past 20 years, the DSNY has been setting up in each borough: snow-melters, which are pieces of equipment that can liquify 60 to 120 tons of snow per hour.
“We use big trucks to haul large piles of snow to the melters, which are set up city-wide,” explained Mager, who noted that Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx each have one snow-melter, while Brooklyn and Queens each have two snow-melters that serve the boroughs' many neighborhoods.
When asked whether a snow-melter could be brought directly to Boro Park to remove its large piles of snow, Mager explained that large trucks haul snow to the melters, not the melters to the snow.
“The snow-melters in Brooklyn serve Boro Park,” said Mager, who added that as per the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the snow-melters must be placed in locations that allow water filtration equipment to operate properly.
“Following bigger snowstorms, first we plow snow from some areas and then move that snow into temporary piles,” Mager explained. “Then, from the temporary piles, we haul the snow to the melters, which liquify the snow. Then, after the snow is melted, we use filters to remove any debris from the water before we pour it down the sewers."