Page 1



WASTE( Dynamics of New

(d)LAND Social Economies



Historical Industrial Landscapes Introduction

The waterfront in 1989 a thriving waterfront (Winnick 1990)


During the booming economy of the mid-90s, increasing

the lack of other jobs within the area, has brought the

rental costs pushed garment factories more to the city

borough to get into deeper decline and impoverishment

edges and out of the Midtown garment district and (the

(Winnick 1990 p.77-82). Nowadays the neighborhood is

once comparably cheaper) Manhattan Chinatown. As

still an attractive living place for current waves of legal

a consequent, these factories began to get settled in

and illegal immigrants to the city.

Sunset Park where first and foremost the price of land


was cheaper and secondly they could have direct access

Decades ago, industrial growth brought reputation of

to the water for shipment of their goods and cargos and

economic development for the neighborhood, but along

finally the majority of the employees of the factories

with industrial development came a huge environmental

were residing in Sunset Park (Winnick 1990 p.77-82).

crisis for the entire New York city the environmental

At its peak, 300 garment factories provided occupation

impacts were evidently more severe for the inhabitants

for the local immigrant population. The area around

of the industrial harbor area (Sze, 2007). Nowadays,

the waterfront was known for its employees within the

industrial legacies have left their marks on the surrounding

industrial area (Brooklyn Community Board 7, 2007).

environment with increased levels of contaminants in

Due to the backdrop of the garment industry and the

the air, soil, sediments and aquatic systems causing

high costs to maintain manufacturing industries there has

environmental degradation and health problems.

been a decline in job opportunities, resulting in scarcity of jobs and making employees vulnerable and dependent

Recognizing these environmental burdens necessitate

to their current employers.

looking for more transformative projects and at the same time community based solutions to reflect local

Although this backdrop of the industries, during the

inhabitants’ demands. Moreover the industrial waterfront

Great Depression and after the Second World War, and

is reconfirmed as industrial zone by the city of New York

(Department of City Planning, 2011) on the other hand, since its decline it is still struggling and searching for new economical impulses. Considering economic decline, high dependency of the poor class neighborhood workers to job-opportunities, lack of good living quality of the neighborhoods in the vicinity of the waterfront and its potentials, emerges a need to rethink/ reconsider the future of the waterfront. Now the current trend is to bring new clean industries within the area with the eye on smaller offices (Department of City Planning, 2011), which will have the tendency to attract a new wave of urbanites from Manhattan, with a new potential residential shift, which could potentially start displacing the current inhabitants of Sunset Park and result in gentrification. The waterfont has had a major importance in the past because of its strategic location. Therefore huge infrastructures were implemented in the vicinity of the waterfront (see map 1). Furthermore the map 1 is describing the current importance of Sunset Park in the bigger New York City region and its railway connection which is now left neglected. An industry in ruin (Winnick, 1990)


to albany

to albany

to providence


Port Newark


Elizabeth - Port Authority Marine Terminal

Jersey - Port Authority Marine Terminal

Red Hook Container Terminal

to allentown, pa and points west

Sunset Park New York Container Terminal

to trenton and points south

each ton of freight carried by rail produces at least 80% less carbon dioxide than if moved by road, and a small train replaces roughly 30 truck trips. (Map based on: Department of City Planning, 2011)

Significant Maritime and Industrial Areas Industrial Business Zone s Marine Container Terminal s Major roadbased transport network NYC rail proposal on existing rail NYC Freight rail proposal 0



Environmental justice

“Environmental justice continues to be an important part of the struggle to improve and maintain a clean and healthful environment, especially for those who have traditionally lived, worked and played closest to the sources of pollution.� (Skelton et al. 2006)


Environmental Justice movement has been taken into

environmentally disadvantaged.

account as the start point of the thesis. This movement

The aforementioned issues and the potentials of

that has been active for several decades tries to coop

the waterfront site, together with the recognized

with emergent disasters of environment related issues

environmental racism in the neighborhood of the case

to the public. This is a movement that due to the status

study are the main reasons of the necessity to study the

of environmental degradation in Sunset Park has been

industrial waterfront of Sunset Park. Therefore the first

embedded in the people’s perspective on the city

research questions arise as “why poor neighborhoods

planning since UPROSE (a local environmental justice

are burdened with environmental problems?” and “how

movement) in 1964 started to strive for the rights of the

can we address these problems?”

inhabitants of the neighborhood.


The movement has passed several milestones and step

Policy makers across the United States have not slipped

stones to get to the situation of the present day. In the

the environmental concerns into cold shoes. New goals

following page there is a preview timeline of political, social

of sustainable development have been set; in New York

and economic processes along the movement course.

itself studies have been launched on how to address

Noteworthy to see how some people were deprived from

future climate change and environmental issues due to

having a clean and safe environment, which was mostly

global warming. For example the New York Vision 2020

the case for people of color and the poor. It has been

plan looks at incentives to clean up polluted waterways,

proven by several studies in the 1980s and early 1990s

cleaning up brownfields and creating waterfront parks

and by environmental justice activists that neighborhoods

(Department of City Planning, 2011). Some of these

who have less political and economic benefits have

studies have a positive contribution to environmental

been targeted to host landfills, waste transfer stations,

progress but most of them fall short including social

power plants, waste water facilities, truck depots and

equity and environmental justice (Agyeman et al. 2003).

so on. These studies fueled the idea of environmental

The new plan has minimal requirements to address

racism and its credibility. Julie Sze (2007), writer of the

the shortage of public access to the waterfront and its

book “Noxious New York” has been a tremendous help

amenities and lacks to guarantee that environmental and

to understand the importance of community groups that

public health issues will be addressed. (Angotti 2011)

strive for the rights of neighborhoods who have been

Milestones of the Environmental Justice Movement

1991 - The First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit meets in Washington, D.C., and creates the Principles of Environmental Justice.

Early 1960s - Farm workers organized by Cesar Chavez fight for workplace rights, including protection from toxic pesticides in California farm fields.

1991 - Creation of the U.S. EPA’s Office of Environmental Equity

1962 - Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring details the harmful effects of pesticides on the environment.

1992 - Environmental justice delegation takes part in U.N. Environmental Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

1964 - Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed. The law’s “Title VI” -- prohibiting use of federal funds to discriminate based on race, color and national origin -- will become an important tool in environmental justice litigation.

1992 - President-elect Bill Clinton appoints environmental justice leaders Benjamin Chavis and Robert Bullard to his transition team.

1966 - United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park (UPROSE) is founded in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, as an environmental justice and social justice community based organization.

1992 - Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and Sen. Al Gore (D-TN) introduce the Environmental Justice Act of 1992 in Congress. The legislation fails to make it through the legislative process.

1970 - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established to enforce laws that protect human health and safeguard the natural environment.

1992 - The National Law Journal publishes “Unequal Environmental Protection”; study shows that communities of color receive less vigorous enforcement of environmental laws.

1971 - President’s Council on Environmental Quality acknowledges that racial discrimination negatively affects the quality of the environment for the urban poor.

1992 - The EPA releases Environmental Equity: Reducing the Risk for All Communities, one of the first far-reaching government reports on environmental justice.

1979 - EPA sued the City of New York for violations of the Clean Water Act when it allowed millions of gallons of raw sewage to flow into the Hudson River. As a result of the Clean Water Act and the Ocean Dumping Act, fourteen water pollution control plants were built to treat the city’s sewage.

1993 - West Harlem Environmental Action settles a lawsuit against the City of New York for $1.1 million and receives a promise of engineering changes to decrease air pollution impacts of the North River Sewage Treatment Plant on the adjacent West Harlem community.

1983 - Congress’s General Accounting Office finds that three-fourths of the hazardous waste disposal sites in eight southeastern states are in poor and African-American communities. 1984 - California Waste Management Board report advises governments and companies looking to site hazardous waste facilities to target small, low-income and rural communities with a high percentage of people who are old or have little education. (Los Angeles Times breaks the story to the public in 1988.) 1990 - Robert Bullard’s book, Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality, underscores importance of race as a factor in siting unwanted toxics-producing facilities. 1990 - Several environmental justice leaders co-sign a widely publicized letter to the “Big 10” environmental groups accusing them of racial bias in policy development and hiring.

(Sources used: Skelton et al. 2006, Sze 2007,, 2012)

1993 - The documentary Toxic Racism is broadcast on television. 1994 - President Bill Clinton signs Executive Order 12898 directing federal agencies to identify and address disproportionately high adverse health and environmental effects of their policies or programs on low-income people and people of color. 2001 - U.N. Commission on Human Rights lists living free of pollution as a basic human right. 2001 – The Fresh Kills landfill site located in New York City was closed due to local pressure supported by United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2005 - At the request of Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-CA), the General Accounting Office releases a report finding that the EPA generally devoted little attention to environmental justice issues while drafting three significant clean air rules on gasoline, diesel and ozone between fiscal years 2000 and 2004.



Environmental Justice & Sunset Park

“The market should be treated as a social institution, not as an objective entity; valuebased political processes define goals, not global markets; economic activity is not an end in itself— it is valued only insofar as it contributes to the politically adopted goals of society� (Levett 1997).

Powerplant. (Van Mierlo, 2011)



The link between economic decline and environmental

treatment plants, solid waste transfer stations and power

and air pollution, causing health and social stigmas has

plants were systematically dumped into low-income

been recognized by environmental justice activists within

immigrant neighborhoods, contributing to the health

Sunset Park and boroughs with similar problems. As the

risks in the neighborhoods (MAP 2).

risks of air and soil pollution became transparent within

According to a publication made in an Associates Report

the communities, residents started to mobilize a force

for the California Waste Management Board (GIRDNER

against the existing stigmas. Especially when asthma and

2002) the prefect siting of waste disposal facilities were

cancer rates were recognized to be higher in boroughs

in low-income rural areas where population consisted

with higher air and environment pollution.

of elderly people and people with high school or less education and with less than 25.000 inhabitants. Poor

The asthma concerns became an extra pressure on the

planning decisions contributed to the environmental

scar that Sunset Park already had since Robert Moses

racism that has been thriving through New York City, with

decided to build the Gowanus Expressway right through

Sunset Park as the vivid image of these trends, focusing

the community district destroying all the houses and

on people with low political voice.

businesses at 3rd avenue (Sze, 2007). Along with the expressway and as a result of privatization of solid waste

The first incentive for organizing around environmental

management and energy deregulation New York’s poor

justice in Sunset Park came from the Latin American

communities became a focal point for everything that

community, which was settled the closest to the

did not fit into Manhattan’s NIMBY policies. Sewage

waterfront. The community group UPROSE, founded in

1964 started campaigns against the unjust solid waste

change and mobilize environmental, political and social

and energy policies. It was in fact not the facilities

resources. The Community Board 197A committee was

themselves that were the problem, but the higher asthma

a key institutional player in developing the Sunset Park

rates than other neighborhoods, especially childhood

Waterfront Development Principles. (Laufer, 2012) To

asthma and other health effects were the key concerns,

better understand the New York City policies towards

which triggered the need for organizing. (SZE J., 2007)

environmental racism, a spatial map of polluting facilities

Children of color in low-income neighborhoods were the

is made, such as waste transfer station, marine transfer

ones who tended to have increased asthma rates around

station, waste water treatment plants and power plants.

1998 (Centers for Disease Control 2000).

The location of the facilities had been chosen in relation to the poor income neighborhoods. (Map 1)

Nowadays UPROSE is working together with Community


Board 71 on a plan to meet the communities needs. As a

industrialization with the excuse of waterfront as the only

team they are trying to negotiate redevelopment, urban

sufficient space available for the mentioned facilities (Sze,

1 As we talked to Community board (CB) 7 it became clear that they were trying to identify community needs, which could become part of the City’s budget process. The CBs are working with government agencies to improve the local delivery of services. Community Boards In New York City only have an advisory role (this was stressed clearly by Jeremy Laufer of CB7) in dealing with land use and zoning matters. (Laufer, 2012)







2007). But the actual reason these neighborhoods were targeted to accommodate the facilities was due to their low resistance as an outcome of lack of political support. In the Sunset Park neighborhood very few (the ones who had legal status) had the right to vote. (Laufer, 2012)


Distribution of Low-Income Population by Census Tract in 2000 0% - 24% 24.1% - 42% 42.1% - 61% 61.1% - 100% Note: Low-income population is defined as the percentage of individuals that reported an income below 200% of the poverty level in each census tract.


Map 2: Polluting facilities related to poor income neighborhoods

Power Plants Peak Power Plants Waste Water Treatment Plants Marine Transfer Station Waste Transfer Stations Truck Gathering Points Recycling centra

(Map based on: 2012; NYC Department of Sanitation, 2012; Sze, 2007)


Big and small-scale polluting manufacturing and industrial businesses. Very clearly illustrated is the Robert Moses expressway that spatially disconnects the neighborhood from the waterfront.


Air Pollutant Facilities

Toxic Release Facilities 1

Former Brooklyn Army Terminal Power Plant brownfields

Industrial / manufacturing buildings Marine Transfer Station Waste Transfer Station

Map 3: Polluting facilities in relation to neighborhood (Map based on:, 2012)

Waste Water Treatment Plant Peak Power Plant

Combined Sewer Overflow outfall


Gowanus power plant: Natural Gas/Kerosine/No.2 Fuel Oil 559 MWatt on 4 barges property of US Power Generating Company LLC Opened in 1971 16 Units dual-fueled natural gas and No. 2 oil 16 Units No.2 oil Peaking plant


Areal image of powerplant (Google earth, 2012)

Narrows power plant: Natural Gas/Kerosine/No.2 Fuel Oil 276 MWatt property of US Power Generating Company LLC opened in 1972 16 Units Peaking Plant


Areal image of powerplant (Google earth, 2012)


New York Power Authority power plant: Natural Gas 79 Mwatt 2 power turbines property of New York Power Authority Opened in 2001 Peaking plant

By energy deregulation a free market has been set up to provide choice for the consumers and to generate lower energy prices. Because of this deregulation less control was taken by NYC government to prevent the siting of polluting facilities (SZE, 2007). In Sunset Park three power plants are located which all are peak plants; means that they only function for a few hours a day. Together they provide approximately 900 MW of electricity per day, 7% of the City’s peak demand. (NYPA, 2003) The New York City government owns only one of the power plants and the other two are private energy providers. To compare the electricity demands of the Sunset Park residents the US Census Bureau data (2010) has made an estimation


for the average usage. This data is only rough estimations since USPowerGen does not publish real data. An estimation would be that, for a conservative average energy use per household, a minimum average load of approximately 50 MW is used by residents in Sunset Park for domestic use. According to UNYISOs estimates, residential electricity use makes up approximately 40% of total use of power in Sunset Park and the commercial and industrial use the other 60%. Sunset Park is likely to consume on average of over 125 MW per day, this could be expected to be more in the summer on peak demand days. (Astoria Generating Company, 2008)

Areal image of powerplant (Google earth, 2012)

The water treatment plant has been operating since 1952. During the entire treatment course, wastewater undergoes five major processes: preliminary treatment, primary treatment, secondary treatment, disinfection

Owl’s Head Wastewater Treatment Plant: treats 120 million gallons of wastewater per day serves 758,007 inhabitants

and finally, sludge treatment. Primary and secondary treatments remove about 85% to 95% of pollutants from the wastewater before the treated wastewater is disinfected and discharged into local waterways (NYCDEP, 2012). Sludge, the byproduct of the treatment process, is digested for stabilization and is then dewatered for easier handling. Afterwards the resulting material send to landfills as a daily cover against waste related diseases and coverage of the dumped wastes to prevent odor and fire.

Owls head waste water treatment plant and its water shed

Above: waste water shed (, 2012) Right: Areal image of Owls Head (Google earth, 2012)



Garbage wars

Environmental justice in an age of garbage

Peggy Lee, Youth Justice Coordinator, UPROSE, and inhabitant of Sunset Park: “the little things really matter, a lot of people don’t know where their trash goes, ‘it goes somewhere’ but somewhere isn’t a place, it actually goes to a landfill and it takes up space where it affects neighboring communities in their quality of life.” (, 2012)

Before we can enter to understand the pressing concerns around garbage handling in New York City at the current state today, a brief history should explain the current trends of waste disposal (see next page).

Politics of Garbage 1885 - Building of the first permanent garbage incinerator in the United States on Governors Island 1849 to 1918 - Barren Island in Jamaica Bay was New York City’s primary waste processing site. 1894 - Mayor Thomas Gilroy set up a committee to make recommendations on the latest and most scientific principles of waste management. The committee’s final recommendations called for an end to ocean dumping of garbage and expressed a preference for reduction over incineration.

well as the changing negative perceptions of smoke, incinerators in the United States plummeted from a high of 300 to a low of 67. Also the EPA, promoted solid waste incineration as a means of energy self-sufficiency in the context of the oil crisis. 1980s - emerging of environmental justice campaigns 1986 - Rhode Island enacts the nation’s first statewide mandatory recycling law. 1986 - Fresh Kills, in Staten Island, New York, becomes the largest landfill in the world.

1905 - New York City begins using a garbage incinerator to generate electricity to light the Williamsburg Bridge.

1987 - The Mobro, a Long Island garbage barge, is turned away by six states and three countries. The garbage (mostly paper) is finally incinerated in Brooklyn and the ash buried in a landfill near Islip.

1909 - 102 of 180 incinerators built since 1885 are abandoned or dismantled. Many had been inadequately built or run. Also, America’s abundant land and widely spaced population made dumping garbage cheaper and more practical.

1988 - The EPA estimates that more than 14,000 landfills have closed since 1978, more than 70% of those operating at that time. The landfills were full, unsafe, or the owners declined to adhere to new standards.

1918 – Garbage dumping in oceans starts again 1920s - During this decade, “reclaiming” or filling in wetlands near cities with garbage, ash, and dirt, becomes a popular disposal method. 1932 - The development of compactor garbage trucks increases vehicle capacity. 1934 - New Jersey successfully sued New York for its garbage dumping in the ocean 1938 - Under the tenure of Sanitation Commissioner William Carey from 1938 to 1940, landfills became the most favored method of disposal. 1947 - Robert Moses opens Fresh Kills pledging that it would be only for three years. After the building of incinerators it would close. This was the start of landfill garbage handling in New York. 1948 - The board of estimate approved an ambitious $44 million construction program for five new incinerators, and to upgrade existing disposal facilities 1958 - the city assumed operations of all private dumps as part of a larger restructuring of solid waste management in response to complaints of extortion by private carters from businesses and buildings throughout the city 1979 - due to expensive labor and fuel, and abundant land for landfills, as

1989 - EPA issues “An Agenda for Action,” calling for an integrated solid waste management approach to solving solid waste problems, with waste prevention and recycling as its first two priorities. 1990s - the city’s commercial waste is monopolized by mob cartels, leading to sky-high garbage collection prices 1996 - Mayor Giuliani enacted a law creating the Trade Waste Commission, in order to bring the power over the commercial waste down to big powerful trash corporations (WMI and BFI). These corporations continued charging predatory prices. 1997 - WMI, BFI and USA had build up sufficient regional transfer stations in order to shut Fresh Kills down 2001 - The Business Integrity Commission agency was founded as the Organized Crime Control Commission; they should define crime activities and give recommendations to aid law enforcement. 2001 - Closing of Fresh Kills landfill; this was made possible by garbage national’s taking over the waste disposal and finished the tradition of handling waste internally. Instead garbage should be brought by trucks to waste transfer stations and later be trucked to outerstate landfills. 2006 - the council approved a Solid Waste Management Plan that redirects the city’s waste to local transfer stations, while relying on railcars or barges to transport it to landfills outside the city.

(Sources: Life after Fresh Kills 2001; Sze 2007; The Rotten Truth 1998; Girdner et Al. 2002; Rogers 2008)



As we can see New York City has a long history and

at their facilities. For Sunset Park the waste is collected

struggle with its waste disposal, ranged from incinerating

by the New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and

garbage to dumping it into landfills, disposal within

brought to IESI NY Corporate, after garbage processing

the city, and now, as a ‘solution’, the waste is shipped

the residues are brought by trucks to the marine transfer

out at marine transfer stations, to be shipped to outer

station that ships the garbage out to Pennsylvania, New

state landfills by barge. As illustrated in map 1 the

Jersey and other interstate landfills. As a consequent of

truck transfer stations and marine transfer stations are

this procedure, every year over 250.000 trips are made

located in several neighborhoods with a low-income

by hauling trucks with polluting diesel engines through

population, the neighborhoods existing in manufacturing

the streets of New York City. Another 250.000 trips are

zones along the waterfronts. In map 3 an attempt was

made to transfer garbage to outer state (NYC EJA 2010).

made to illustrate the relation between the locations of

Waste in New York City is separated into five different

the transfer stations, the truck hauling routes and the


Sunset Park Neighborhood. The black dots are the waste

commercial waste, pedestrian litter, and construction

transfer stations, which collect the garbage and sort it

waste (see NYC waste stream). The DSNY collects

EXISTING WASTE CYCLE New York City waste stream Residential & Institutional (12,000 tpd)

Commercial (13,000 tpd)


Transfer stations (50,000 tpd)

= $ 300 million/year

Construction & Demolition (25,000 tpd)

(Diagram based on: NYC Department of Sanitation, 2012)


New Jersey (1,500 tpd)

DSNY (12,000 tpd)

Private Carters (38,000 tpd)


9.900 tons of waste per day of putrescible trash-food scraps, dirty paper, and recyclable containers- from the commercial sector

Pennsylvania (9,000 tpd)

Other Interstate Landfills (35,500 tpd)


Map 4: Garbage distribution and waste sheds


Waste Transfer Station IESI NY Corp gathers the garbage of community districts 7 and 10, brought by DSNY

CD 7 CD 10 Waste shed for transfer stations Sunset Park Waste shed for marine transfer station Major waste transport routes Marine transfer station Waste transfer stations Truck gathering points

(Map based on:, 2012; NYC Department of Sanitation, 2012)

Recycling Facilities

residential waste as well as pedestrian litter. Pedestrian

Not only the pricing of waste disposal is a concern for

litter is first pilled on the corners of the streets in Sunset

businesses, also on the larger scale, for New York City,

Park by the Business Improvement District (BID) and

disposal prices can be quite a burden. Since the closure

later picked up by DSNY.

of the Fresh Kills landfill, the prices jumped from $40 to $105 per ton of refuse for the DSNY. These expenses


Another story is the commercial and construction waste,

include fees charged by outer state dumps and the

which is collected by private charters. Businesses have

long haul trips by diesel engine trucks. Since the main

to hire a private charter themselves to get rid of their

waste disposal method became disposal in outer state

refuse. As we can see from the timeline they have not

landfills, annual exportation of New York City’s waste to

been uncontested in the past decades and businesses

other communities has an average cost of $300 million

are left with a legacy of fluctuating garbage disposal

(Life after Fresh Kills 2001). Other costs that are directly

prices. (Rogers 2008) Nowadays the Business Integrity

related but not included in annual calculations are those

Commission keeps the approximately 1.500 private

of environmental restoration after the whole process of

charters in line, the BICs mandate is to abolish organized

waste disposal.

crime and corruption by the industries it regulates. The private charters are now strictly prohibited to charge

All in all, it can be concluded by questioning “if all these

more than the maximum rates given by the BIC which

costs of exporting the waste and environmental recovery

is per 100 pounds ($10.42) or per cubic yard ($15.89) of

are just postponing a pressing problem of handling waste

loose refuse (NYC BIC, 2012), it is up to the business to

on site. Does exporting waste not give the illusion that

decide if it prefers to pay per pound or per cubic yard. In

when something is thrown away, you don’t have to face it

this way private charters are not in favor of hauling food

anymore? And if we do not think about the consequences

waste because of its lack of profitability, since food waste

of waste disposal, how can we give incentives to create

is much heavier than normal waste (VAN OOYEN 2004).

less waste?

The expenses to hire a private charter can be a heavy weight on small businesses shoulders, which sometimes

To start answering these questions, a dissection is made

end up in illegal dumping.

from New York City’s waste composition. The next page is giving a scheme of what New York City’s curbside

Regional Organic Waste Regional organic waste

Designated for recycling 36,83%

Organics 33,77%

Other 29,4% 159

Paper and cardboard 15,04%

Current recycled materials:

Glass containers 2,4% Metal 4,07%

NYC Recycled materials %

Plastic botttles and jugs 1,48%

Other non-ferrous

Beverage cartons 0,4%


Other plastics 13,44%

beverage cartons

Other materials 15,13%


Construction & demolishing Debris 6,29%


Textiles and carpets 7,01%

Clear glass

Electronics (e-waste) 0,7%

Green glass

Household hazardous waste 0,27% Food scraps 21,42% Yard trimmings 5,15% Compostable, nonrecyclable paper 7,2%


Brown glass

Potential recyclable materials

(Diagrams based on: NYC Department of Sanitation, 2012, The City of New York, 2012)

Mixed broken glass Non-designated materials

waste is containing and what the opportunities are.

stations, by trucks. Causing not only a local environmental

According to New York waste management policies, it

distress but also environmental degradation at outer

is only require to recycle a limited amount of waste and

state landfills. Diverting this waste from landfills could

33% of organic materials, which can be easily recycled,

financially benefit the city saving $24 million, distress

Regional Commercial Waste are not recovered. After paper (which is recovered) and

landfills and reduce truck traffic in communities that are

yard waste (not recovered) food waste causes the largest

already overburdened with waste facilities. New York’s

waste stream in the United States, which 97 % of it ends

new incentive is transferring their waste by barge, but is

up in landfills or gets processed by incinerators (AHMED

this enough to tackle all the waste concerns?

et al. 2011). If we assume (as before calculated), the

putrescible waste tpd is daily being easily calculate that 4.000 tons9.889 of waste daily amount of residential waste is 12.000 tons, we can

transferred from waste transfer and marine transfer


non-putrescible waste Regionalcommercial Commercial Waste Regional 27.695 tpdWaste

putrescible waste 9.889 tpd non-putrescible waste 27.695 tpd




19% = 1878,91 tpd





Staten Island


A similar calculation can be made out of the content of commercial waste, which mainly exists of putrescible and nonputrescible waste. Non-putrescible does not contain organic matter that has a tendency to decompose as for putrescible waste does contain organic matter and for that can be seen as organic recyclable waste. Diverting this waste from landfills can reduce another $59 million from the cities tax money (AHMED Manhattan 42% et al. 2011). Brooklyn

(Diagram based on: Ahmed et al. 2011)

19% = 1878,91 tpd





Staten Island


Garbage mountain in east 16th street Manhattan. (authors 2012)



What to do with all this waste? Learning from other cases

Solid waste reduction is one of the major concerns of the

Leuven in Belgium, which is the context of the author of

environmental justice movement. It can help to address

this part of the thesis. The process of disposal of organic

the ecological footprint of New York City and the goal of

waste in Leuven starts with separating the organic waste

reducing waste generation. But this has to be carefully

and afterwards composting it. In the other two case

planned and environmental and economical benefits

studies the organic waste is disposed by anaerobic

should be shared equally over the five boroughs. In other

digestion and afterwards via waste-to-energy plants,

words the waste disposal should be done according to

biogas is extracted from the waste. The case study

community outreach and public participation in land use

in Oakland has a particular interest because of its co-

decisions (Agyeman et al. 2003).

digestion with sludge extracted from treating wastewater.

So what to do and where to go with all this waste?

The third case only uses only organic waste as feedstock

To answer such questions, it is interesting to look at how

for extracting biogas.

organic waste is handled in other counties. Therefore three case studies are considered to illustrate how different municipalities try to tackle with their waste mountains. The first case study is taken in the city of


Case Study 1: Ecowerf in Leuven

The compost installation at EcoWerf was created in 1996, and is operated by 10 people. It has an annual production of 47.000 tons of compost per year, which generates around 68.000 euro in sales. The compost production process contains three steps: the pre-process sorting of waste, the fermentation process, and the post-process completion. During the fermentation process, which takes around 5 weeks, the waste is stored in the compost hall at 55째C. This temperature gives it the ideal circumstances for air supply and draining the humidity. A special machine continually mixes through the materials during the


fermentation process and the used air is cleaned with biological scent filters. After the first five weeks, the newly produced compost is transported to the post-processing hall where it is filtered. The finer the material the better the quality product. In post production, the compost remains for another five weeks, for another fermentation process. After this process, the compost is sold for garden surface Municipalities Served: East Brabant


Feedstock: Municipal Organic waste Capacity: 47.000 ton per year

The total process from municipal organic waste to fertilizer takes 10 weeks and from every ton of waste Areal image. (Google Earth 2012)

coming in EcoWerf can make 300kg of compost. The byproduct of EcoWerf product has a good quality and even has obtained a quality label due to its efforts on quality in both the product and the production process. They continually strive to improve results on smell nuisance, working along with people in the neighborhood, who report about a possible smell. The biological air filtering embraces all of the space where the organic waste and the compost are processed. Other efforts to reduce the smell are special entrance ports for the waste transportation, and the organic waste is kept inside during the whole fermentation process. This has resulted in a strong diminution of air nuisance during the


last years. The EcoWerf has a wide range of programs stimulating education about composting and is working together

Soil proccessing, composting hall and end product. (, 2012)

with schools to start up composting programs. Children can get guided tours as well at the site to learn about

To conclude we can say that it is very interesting to see

the process used in EcoWerf. At the site itself other

that recycling organic waste can create a byproduct,

recyclables are processed and adjacent there is a

which can turn waste in an economical value.

container park to bring recyclables that do not fit in

(source used for case study;, 2012)

normal recycle bags. The facility has a size of 108 by 56 meters and a height of 11 meters.

Case Study 2: Oakland East Bay Municipal Utility Wastewater Treatment Plant

Oakland East Bay Municipal Utility Wastewater Treatment Plant (EBMUD) EBMUD is basically a wastewater treatment facility in Oakland, CA. that processes food waste together with the bio-solids from the wastewater treatment. After some additional grinding to form slurry, it is added to the anaerobic sludge digesters. The process of co-digestion of the organic waste and the motioned bio-solids is performed in reactors. The digesters reduce the volume of food scraps by 90% in two weeks of digesting so only 10 percent has to be sent to the landfills. Since the food waste and sluge are


co-digestered, the leftovers cannot be considered as clean organic compost. Therefore it is taken to landfills to control waste source diseases, fire and odor (Arsova 2010). In 2008, the facility processed 90 metric tons/day of food waste five days a week, i.e. about 22,000 tons/yr (Neves et al. 2007). In order to generate electricity, the extracted gas is pumped to a power station on site with Municipalities Served: San Francisco & Oakland

three combustion engines that each produces 2.2 Mega

Feedstock: Commercial collected food scraps

Watts of electricity. Roughly calculated it would provide

Capacity: 40 tpd

enough power for 1.400 homes per day.

Digesters used: 6 Areal image. (Google Earth 2012)

The intension of the facility is to upgrade the power being produced with a new turbine which will produce 4MW of electricity and will almost double the amount of electricity being produced enabling to send extra energy into the power grid (Arsova 2010).

Digester. (Kerr, 2010)


Process of food waste in anaerobic digesters. (Kerr, 2010)

Case Study 3: Ecopark 2 - Montcada i Reixac

The Ecopark 2 - Montcada i Reixac is located in the Industrial zone of the town of Can Salvatella Andis, 9.5 miles away from the center of the city of Barcelona. This mechanical and biological treatment plant started operating in 2003 and has both, anaerobic digestion and aerobic composting facilities. Total installed capacity on the plant is 240.000 t/year of organic waste, which half of this amount is the capacity in the anaerobic digestion reactors. The treatment begins with mechanical pretreatment to recover of the recyclables (glass, paper, packaging, etc) and source separated organics (SSO) followed by anaerobic digestion and aerobic composting. Refused


material from pretreatment lines is pressed, packed and sent for disposal on a controlled sanitary landfill. Three anaerobic digesters are installed on the site, each with capacity of 4500 m3. The anaerobic digestion reactor is operated on mesophilic temperature of 35.C and retention time of 25 days. The input material is a mixture of the digested material from the reactor (25%), fresh organic material (50-60 %) and water. Municipalities Served: Montcada i Reixac Feedstock: Commercial collected food scraps Capacity: 240.000 t/year

The produced biogas is collected from the anaerobic digestion reactors There are four generators, each with capacity of 1 MW, for utilization of the biogas and Areal image. (Google Earth 2012)

production of electricity and steam. The steam is used for heating of the anaerobic digestion reactors and the electricity is used on the site (59%) and the rest (41%) is sold to the grid. In total 20.2 GWh of electricity was produced in 2008. The digested sludge coming out of the digesters undergoes a dehydration process. The resultant solid material is mixed in 3:1 ration with green waste and then treated for 2 weeks in composting tunnels.

ra to r ne ge

ct or

po w er

sc ol le









cr 2



humidity, air and temperature and monitored for 3 weeks.



ua l



In this treatment the material is kept under controlled


ra tio n

Aerobic composting

tro m ag di ne ge t st er

Digester and gas collector. (, 2012)

After this period it is disinfected on temperature of 65ยบC uc

s el nn

ro d tp

g tin

co m




po s

po s


ns co m


cr us

One of the interesting aspects of this plant is that the final




pl a

nt re m


the maturing period the material is refined.

compost produced is distributed for free and no profits1



and kept for maturation additional 4 weeks. At the end of



4 5 6




are received out of it. (Sources used for casestudy: Arsova L., 2010;, 2012)

Waste digestion and composting process (, 2012)


New Economical Impuls

from waste burden to waste opportunity

Recycling collection point in Sunset Park. (authors 2012)

The City of New York 2012: “In the longer term, the best hope for increased organic waste recycling in NYC lies in the ongoing development of mixed waste (or MSW) composting and anaerobic digestion.�


Food comprises a large part of NYC’s waste stream. By

the co-digestion of sludge and organic waste can provide

sending it to the landfill it contributes to NYC’s disposal

more power. (Edelmann et al. 2000)

costs and greenhouse gas emissions, while if it gets composted, organic waste becomes a useful product

Anaerobic digestion of organic waste gives three end

that adds nutrients and improves the quality of soil.

products, including clean power, heat and a marketable

(, 2012)

product. Because of the need for renewable resources to replace fossil fuels and due to climate change, the


But the complexities should not be underestimated.

first two by products are of major importance for the

As Bélanger (2007) describes, “The complexity of

neighborhood, which is saturated with three polluting

recycling and remediation is magnified at the urban

power plants. The proposed alternative of digestion of

scale, especially when it involves an ecology of multiple

food waste and sludge generates hydrogen, which is

industries and multiple waste streams.“ Multilateral

considered as a sustainable energy source with minimal,

strategies, such as waste diversion, separation, recycling,

or zero use of hydrocarbons and high-energy yield (2.75

composting and remanufacturing, are proving effective

times more than fossil fuel), which makes it a promising

as durable alternatives to conventional systems of waste

alternative to fossil fuels. In addition, hydrogen can be

management that previously relied on consolidated

directly used to produce electricity.

forms of disposal.(Bélanger 2007)

“If we stop wasting food, the CO2 impact would be the equivalent of taking one in four cars off the road. This will

Reflecting this back to the case studies we can learn that

prevent emission of 15 million tonnes of CO2.” (WRAP,

waste can be an economical asset in local development,


contributing to work opportunities (Agyeman et al. 2003). Synergies can be created between existing facilities such as the wastewater treatment plant in Sunset Park, where

Borough equity

In order to create a new form of solid waste management without





it is important to answer to one of the most stressing factors that environmental justice groups bring to the foregroung, “borough equity� (Sze, 2007). The need for rethinking about waste disposal facilities, water pollution control plants and energy demands, has to be brought together with the fact that each borough carries its own responsibility. Therefore, starting from borough equity, only Brooklyn is taken into account for the estimation of potential outcomes. The outcomes are described in the diagram of the next page.

Design proposal

Dynamics of New Social Economies


Benefits calculations Organic Waste Ton per week

1 digester

46,6 TPW

Anaerobic Digestion


Sunset Park

Heat producted

Power produced out of hydrogen

71 MW/Week

423 MW/Week 6x

307 TPW




9025 MW/Week 6.000 TPW


932 TPW


1430 MW/Week

(content based on: Arsova, 2010; Astoria Generating Company, 2008; Center for the Study of Brooklyn, 2012; Kim et al. 2004)

Amount of solid waste produced per week per borough 9.032 TPW

fertilizer: 10% waste is left over at 7 dollar per ton

4,66 TPW = $ 33 10.431 TPW

30,7 TPW = $ 215 16.021 TPW

175 18.100 TPW 33% = 6.000 TPW organic waste 600 TPW = $ 4200

Power demands: 875MW per week

931 TPW

33% = 307 TPW organic waste 40% residential 60% commericial and industrial

4.328 TPW

93,2 TPW = $ 652 = $ 238.126 per year


Local assets

Supermarket in Sunset Park. (authors 2012)

Map 5: Local businesses


Local businesses and public facilities able to provide commercial food waste. (Map based on: Brooklyn Community Board 7, 2007)

Brooklyn Wholesale Meat Market commercial/office buildings public facilities and institutions mixed residential and commercial buildings


Brownfields at the Sunset Park waterfront. (authors 2012)

Brownfield Opportunities

“Brownfield Opputunity Areas (BOA) was crafted as a tool to enable low-income communities burdened with multiple brownfield sites, high incidence of disease, and unemployment, to identify and implement alternatives to noxious uses as the primary future for reclaimed brownfield sites.� (KASS et al. 2011)

Industrial decay. (authors 2012)


There are numerous brownfield1 sites in New York City,

as part of the 2003 Brownfields Law, these are generous

former thriving industrial sites that are now left neglected

refundable tax credits that are awarded based on

and underused. A majority of them are located within

specified categories of costs involved in remediating

low-income communities of color such as Sunset Park.

and redeveloping a brownfield site. According to NPCR

These brownfields are much contested because of their

these BTCs have been controversial since the beginning.

potential to be effective on future economic growth, social

As most of the subsidies have been pumped to projects

revitalization and the public health of the surrounding

located in prime or promising locations, there is no

neighborhoods. At the same time the definition of such

agreement as to how many of the properties that have

brownfields for these neighborhoods are abandoned

been cleaned up required the motivation for development

industrial spaces and disinvestment for their depraved

to happen. (NPCR, 2012)

environment. However we have to be careful with proposing


Community actors see these spaces as opportunities to

brownfield redevelopment because of its potential to

meet their pressing community needs such as affordable

lead to gentrification. Several concerns have to be taken

housing, good jobs, facilities for the community and

into account. When brownfield revitalization brings in

education, waterfront accessibility and as confirmed in

now job opportunities, neighboring communities are

the analysis of Sunset Park, open space (Tylke 2012).

less vulnerable to displacement (EPA, 2012). Therefore

For the past nine years, New York State’s brownfield

community organizations can be involved to mediate

cleanup program has relied primarily on one type of

between the neighborhood residents to bring in local

incentive, Brownfield Tax Credits (BTCs), to encourage

resources. They can provide job training for the new

private investment in brownfield redevelopment. Created

economical impulses and brownfield remediation.


The term brownfield site means ‘‘real property for which the expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant’’ (U.S. Congress, 1980). Brownfield sites are generally abandoned or under-utilized old industrial and/or commercial facilities, and can be major eyesores and/ or health hazards for residents of the communities in which they are located. Source: ADELAJA ET AL. 2010

Economic benefits for the community should be considered, the organic waste recycling can not only provide job opportunities on site, local businesses can bring their organic waste and save money on paying private charters to collect the waste. Site of the DSNY waste transfer station. (authors 2012)


Soil, groundwater and sediment at and underneath the Sunset Park industrial zone became contaminated in the 1970s due to unauthorized disposal of construction and demolished debris, liquid wastes including oils, oil sludge and wastewater. Furthermore the communities health is impacted by traffic, industrial spills, dumping, household and industrial use of fertilizers and the spread of pesticides. (EPA, 2012)

Sunset Park has a total of 232 acres of brownfield sites,

To act in response to environmental decay and answer to

which are almost 1/3 of the 585 acres of industrial

the community needs alternative strategies are used for

waterfront. As Alan Berger would call it: drosscapes, in

the brownfields. They can serve as energy crops and/or

an urban environment, which has been left neglected but

as permeable surface for water runoff and reduce sewer

at the same time have a huge potential for increasing the

overflow (which is a critical problem in New York City),

biodiversity of the urban landscape. The waste landscape

and counter the need of desired open space while still

has to make space for continuous energy flows and

being productive by growing food and bringing Sunset

transformations, and therefore place has to be made

Parks inhabitants closer to the consumption and disposal

for non-permanent structures, but integrate inevitable


‘dross’ into a more flexible strategy (Berger 2006). Investing in redevelopment of brownfields has been slowed down for investors by expensive cleaning fees, 182

high insurance for protection of the investors who have no liability protection and complicated approval processes (RYAN 1997). In order to facilitate a more attractive





governmental incentives are given at federal, state and city level (NPCR, 2012).1

1 Government agencies at the Federal - Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-, State -Department of State (DOS)-, and City - Office of Environmental Remediation (OER) – level provide incentive programs to see these brownfields be redeveloped. These incentives include Brownfield Tax Breaks (BTCs), environmental insurance policies, liability protection, Brownfield incentive grant (BIG), Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA), Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP), Community Brownfield Planning District, NYC Brownfield Partnership, Brownfield Works, Environmental Training Program and NYC Pocket Parks Program. All these incentives should provide money for environmental cleaning and development and job training and job creation (NPCR, 2012).


The areal maps give an understanding of the decline of industry leading to the underutilized spaces and brownfields. (Google earth 2012, Oasis Maps 2012)

Brownfield strategy Brownfield strategies


4 years

hazordous soil

Energy crops 184

water retention

water retention

Extracting of air and soil pollution by phytoremediation

Extracting of air and soil pollution by phytoremediation

Creation of inclusive social space

Creation of inclusive social space

Anaerobic digestion of food waste

Anaerobic digestion of food waste

10 years

Site remediation becomes one of the structuring elements of a new industrial landscape. The brownfield remediation strategy can be seen in different phases over time. They will make space for flexible usage depending on the grade of contamination on the site. In this way some plots can immediately be ‘redeveloped’ and used as community garden or large biomass production sites, others will need a longer restoration time. In this way the process of remediation becomes dynamic and allows for future flexible functionalities, without obstructing future expansion or

Energy crops

productivity. The technique of phytoextraction is a technique that

water retention

exploits the phyto-remediation plants for the removal of pollutants in the soil, some plants have the ability to translocate pollutants to the cell compartments and

Production of vegetables

digest them. The plants are cultured in the polluted soil, the absorption of the pollutant is carried to the roots, which then translocate pollution to the air. The aboveground part of

Creation of inclusive social space

the plants, i.e. the part in contact with the air, will then be removed and with it also the pollutant. The harvest of the biomass has to be processed as hazardous waste

Anaerobic digestion of food waste

depending on the level of pollution, others can be used in the anaerobic digestion system. (Korade et al. 2008)


Phytoremediation simulation of Bush terminal


Typical ccontaminants present at the waterfront and plants used for phytoremediation CONTAMINANT







found in paints, dyes, metals, pesticides and soaps

Polychlorinated Biphenyls






C16H10 Pyrene


C14H10 Anthracene

Alpine Pennycress Common Wheat*

Indian Mustard*

Accumulate in fish and marine mammals at much higher levels than in sediments and water

Paul’s Scarlet Rose*


White rot fungus


White Mulberry*

They are also contained in gasoline and diesel exhaust, soot, coke, and cigar and cigarette

smoke. In addition, they are the byproducts of open fires, waste incinerators, coal gasification, and coke oven emissions.

C18H12 PAH*Benz[a]anthracene

*Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons Multi family housing, recreation, park

Chinese brake fern Sunflower*




Single family housing, gardening, playground

Farming animals, growing food

(Diagram based on: Korade et al. 2008, Division of Environmental Remediation, 2004)

Hybrid Willow*

Ryegrass* * can be used in context Sunset Park

New site restoration proposal based on flexible remediation strategies

From brownfields to greenfields

biomass production

Climate protection Image improvement for redevelopment Energy Educational function Increasing of greenspace Recreationall value Soil upgrading Sustainable development



â‚Ź 4.000 - 6.500*

Energy production regional organic waste

Soil remediation Marketable product

Excavation & fill

â‚Ź 40.000 - 80.000*

*The costs associated with remediating lead contamination on a 2,500sf lot through phytoextraction using Indian Mustard can be reduced to 10% of those using common methods of excavation and fill (EPA, 2010)

Site Proposal Infrastructure: Sunset Park has due to its waterfront the

waste in order to have more productive energy rates.

perfect location to distribute the end produced fertilizer. The former railway, which is currently not being used, is

Although the spreading of odors is almost limited due to

penetrating into the site enabling a direct disposal of the

the process of anaerobic digestion, a wind study is made

organic waste coming from Brooklyn. waste collection

to see the direction of the prevailing wind flows in order

points are attached along the railway, in order to prevent

to prevent any disturbance to neighboring inhabitants.

saturation of transport through one particular community.

The huge surrounding area can be used to grow biomass

As illustrated in the map on the next page, collecting

and as a green landscape for the community residents.

facilities can be sited in industrial business zones along the rail line. 188

The Brooklyn Army Terminal is governmentally owned,

Map 6: most common wind directions

which is currently being used predominantly as storage of goods. It can accommodate more activities to fill in the enormous space available. This creates the opportunity of using the building to store the final product before exporting







improvements of the facility. Presence of the wastewater treatment plant: currently owns 6 functioning digesters that process the sludge before sending it to landfills. They do not however extract energy, which would be limited when sludge is digested alone, therefore the existing digesters can be (as mentioned before) an offset to co-digest organic




1 Miles

Map 7 Waste network with collection points along railline

Red Hook Container Terminal



Sunset Park

Strategic regional location with rail and water connection

Significant maritime and industrial areas Industrial business zones Marine container terminals Existing rail infrastructure Road network





TO POWERGRID New York Power Authority





LOCAL: Urban agriculture site remediation PROFIT: Botanica Gardens export rooftop farms











UPROSE works as a mediator between municipality and community to represent community needs

LOCAL BUSINESSES Brooklyn Wholesale Meat Market Restaurants Supermarkets, Grocery Stores and Convenience Stores


Public Schools Green Carts Farmers Markets CSAs Urban agriculture


Garbage has had a very negative connotation up till

Brooklyn Botanical Garden, urban farming projects and

now in the face of many poor income communities, this

CSA’s to provide the income of waste materials and the

is why this project is particularly sensitive to the people

distribution of fertilizer.

of Sunset Park. To create a community synergy with the

Together with UPROSE the recycling facility will create

waste facility, and let them benefit of the waste profits,

the ‘TASTE-THE-WASTE’ program to create a public

a local community group UPROSE is included in the

awareness of the possibilities of organic waste and to

project to be the mediator between NYC officials and the

promote recycling and urban farming. The ‘TASTE-THE-

community. They will be included on many levels, from

WASTE’ gardens can be maintained by local residents,

promoting waste recycling to finding new stakeholders

and UPROSE can start educational programs for children

to participate in the waste processing.

and adults about recycling and food cultivation.

Commercial businesses can reduce their expenses by

The design will integrate much desired open space

bringing their own recyclables to the recycling facility.

and create a synergy with the surrounding community

UPROSE will be in charge of finding local employees

involving in more actors in the project to create an open

and find potential partnerships with for example the

ended model.


Creating Creatingsynergies synergies


households Brooklyn

The parallel interrelation of different facilities and the

Brooklyn Wholosale Meat MArket


potential of new synergies are an important aspect in

regional organic waste

creating an efficient methodology in the waste landscape. Although creating these synergies would generate benefits for all actors involved, they are not dependent to

food vendors


each other in order to function.

cargo tram rail urban agriculture

+ 192 biomass


Water management


biomass fields

Industrial rooftops


Beneficial outcomes

excess heat

amount of waste before digestion amount of waste after digestion

stored biogas





193 NYC Power Grid

mixture of sludge and organic waste ANAEROBIC CO-DIGESTION



Owls Head Wastewater Treatment Plant

shipped to landfill as odor cap

toxic biomass


surrounding households

hazordous soil


The site is interpreted as a model that allows flexible

recycling, and see the lifecycle of their organic waste.

adjustments and gradual transformation. With its

The environment around the Brooklyn Army terminal

waterfront access to connect to the public water transport

is re-qualified with parts of urban biomass production,

system, and the greenway crossing the recycling site,

phytoremediation and an orchard that can nurture trees,

steers people attention to different sectors of the facility.

which later on can be planted within the city fabric. In

Transparency in the project is very important and public

this way the site creates a new form of economical and

participation is one of the most essential parts of its

ecological value where the former monotone landscape

succession. The community gardens of the TASTE-

made place for public productivity.

THE-WASTE program allow people to learn about

Axonometry of design proposal


Brooklyn Wholesale meat market organic feedstock

STEP 4: Electricity

regional power grid 196

Shipping $

In order to make the previous proposed synergetic diagram more tangible, this diagrammatic functioning of the site is showing an optimal usage of the existing infrastructures. It reveals the dynamics of the brownfield strategies in synergy with the waste recycling.

Diagrammatic organic waste cycle on site

Recycling collection point Households

Phytoremediation STEP 5: Storage

Biomass Taste The Waste 197

STEP 2: Anaerobic digestion

STEP 4: Compost drying STEP 3: Gas collection

Cargo tram with regional organic waste

STEP 1: Pre-treatment

STEP 2: Anaerobic co-digestion with sludge

To landfill 90% reduced Waste water treatment plant

Detailled section of ‘cut and fill’ groundworks


The rainwater network is captured and guided to the

connections, one is the greenway, which goes along the

open space at the waterfront where it can be stored

whole Brooklyn waterfront, the other one is connecting

in water ponds. These ponds are interwoven into the

the residential neighborhood with the waterfront. A

landscape of the brownfields and start to form the new

new waterfront transportation system is brought to

landscape through cut and fill applications. Intentionally

the abandoned pier and gives a fast connection to

placed tree lines create a higher buffer on top of the filled

Manhattan. This gives a welcome push to the shortage

spaces keep the soil settled. During heavy rainfall the

of fast public transport. The pier has a multiple usage

biomass fields can serve as extra water buffers and form

because it also facilitates the anaerobic digesters and


composting process. In this way the recycling facility can

The system of water management and brownfield

help to fund the public usage of the pier.

remediation can bring back biodiversity within the deprived industrial waterfront and form recreational

Furthermore the new development structure is just a

spaces for neighboring residents.

guide towards positioning of new small-scale businesses. Small boxes are scattered along the waterfront, which

The transport network on the site enables passers a

serve as manufacturing spaces. These boxes mainly

glimpse on the new recycling landscape. The recycling

contain one floor and can be filled in or redeveloped if

facility is sited at the cross point of two important soft

the existing structures are deteriorated.

Map 8: rainwater network rainwater catchment rainwater carriers green buffer permeable surface with biomass production rainwater collectors cut and fill

Map 9: transport network internal industrial traffic soft waterfront connector new public watertransport greenway connecting the waterfront parks of Brookyn cargo tram rail

Map 10: new development structure

new development and infill of vacant manufacturing buildings new affordable housing


tree nursery

compost drying


view waterfont access






section 1-1’


water transport

cargo tram

view from section biomass phytoremediation/parkland

2nd avenue


biomass production

rainwater collector

internal truckroad


compost drying

100 50 10 0m

recycling drop-off point


view from section


recycle drop-off point

rainwater carrier

research unit


water transport

section 2-2’


100 50 2nd avenue

rainwater collector

rainwater collector


parking Brooklyn Army Terminal

internal truck road


compost storage


waterfront connection

10 0m

This thesis tries to tackle with the issues and constraints observed in sunset park during the course of its research. To the author’s eyes the complexity of the current obstacles can be seen as interrelated socio-economic layers, ranging from the lack of job opportunities/ economical activities to the hazardous and unhealthy environment. Additionally, it is noteworthy to mention the absence of political voice of the neighborhood; in other words the interests of the inhabitants are not considered in perspectives of the city vision plans. The existence of waste dumping and power plants in Sunset Park manifest inequalities that thrive in New York City (Sze 204


2007). The uneven distribution of the polluting facilities should be restored and each borough should carry the responsibility of its own waste management and power production. In respect to the aforementioned conditions the taken redevelopment strategies should bring a common solution. In other words the problems cannot be tackled individually, a common sense is needed to create synergies between the multiple aspects of the problems. The waterfront area is taken into account as a platform for implementing the urban revival strategies due to its potentials and proximity to the neighborhood on one hand, and the urgent need of rethinking about the

environmental impact of the present facilities and the

path crossing the Brooklyn waterfront. Environmental

brownfield legacies on the other.

restoration of the surrounding brownfields becomes one of the structuring elements of the site and strategically

Moreover waste is seen as an asset to restore the deprived

placed educational platforms are implemented near

environment and a food waste cycle is envisioned at a

surrounding residential buildings and public accesses

local and regional scale as a benefit for local economic

offering multi-functional, collaborative use of space.

development as prototype for New York City’s waste

Local residents and community organizations maintain


these educational platforms, known as the ‘TASTE-THE-

Environmental impact of fossil fuel-based energy

WASTE’ program.

production demands an urgent shift to cleaner and more sustainable manners of power production.

This process cannot be seen as a closed entity;

Recycling organic waste, of which daily over 13.000

therefore the role of community is of major importance

tons is being shipped to landfills, has the opportunity to

for the succession of a new form of participation in the

create three byproducts: power, heat and fertilizer as a

production and disposal cycle of the city.

marketable product. To the opportunities of this system

The role of the community organizations like UPROSE,

for the environmentally deprived community should not

which are the political voice of the inhabitants of the

be overlooked, heat can be used in surrounding houses,

neighborhood is to improve and accelerate the course

and the fertilizer can be used at the degraded polluted

of the redevelopment strategies through reflecting the

soils for growing crops to restore the contaminated

people’s needs to the decision makers and make a stage

environment. The resulting clean power source meets the

for a continuous dialogue between both parties. A major

demand of the neighboring community and can replace

duty of the communities is to motivate people to be

existing polluting power plants.

involved in urban redevelopment projects and instead of being passive consumers invite/educate them to be an

To create a participatory environment the recycling

active part in the local economic chain and have a feeling

facility is implemented in an open landscape with two

of ownership to these projects.

public access corridors. One is leading to a new water transport connection; the other is the greenway cycling


Urbanisms of Inclusion: WASTE(d)LAND  

Design Part of Jana Grammens in the thesis of Urbanisms of Inclusion: Sunset Park. Written and designed at Parsons The New School for Design...

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