Manhattan Citizens' Solid Waste Advisory Board

MCSWAB was established with the four other New York City solid waste advisory boards with the enactment of Local Law 19 of 1989.  Since its' creation, the Manhattan Citizens Solid Waste Advisory Board has been extremely active and very effective providing oversight and advice to the Sanitation Department, the City Council, and other local and state agencies.  The Board consists of volunteers -- those in the recycling / waste fields, and those who are not.  


The Board's list of accomplishments shows that the SWAB has a long history of making creative recommendations, advocating for more money for recycling and waste prevention, new research, and seeing some of those efforts come to fruition in the form of new legislation and higher budgets. 

Monthly Meetings

The Board meets monthly on the first Wednesday of the month, except Augusts usually, in the Municipal Building, 1 Centre St, 19th floor conference room.  All meetings are open to the public.  Interested Manhattan residents or workers are encouraged to attend meetings and to join.  To get on our mailing list to receive meeting agenda and announcements, please contact Rick Muller, Manhattan Borough President's Office.

Steering Committee

As of 2005 the Board is chaired by Maite Quinn and Vice chaired by Maggie Clarke.  There are committees dealing with export of waste and recyclables, environmental procurement, E-waste/recycling, and long-range planning.  The steering committee meets monthly.

See MCSWAB bylaws as of 2003


The MCSWAB Waste Prevention Committee
(as of 2000 this committee became part of the NYC Waste Prevention Coalition and as of 2004 became active participants of the Zero Waste Campaign)

The Waste Prevention committee is a subcommittee of the Manhattan Citizens' Solid Waste Advisory Board.  This committee has been in existence since 1988, and our achievements have included providing recommendations to the New York City Department of Sanitation (DOS), the City Council, and others on the following topics:

  1. Legislation

    In 2005 the committee began work on revision of the New York State Solid Waste Management Act of 1988, working with state legislators on drafting bills and regulations.

    We co-authored and convinced the City Council to introduce, in January 1995, Intro. 509, a comprehensive environmental procurement bill.  We have also submitted a companion piece addressing waste prevention practices in city agencies.   After Intro. 509 was allowed to expire, a new bill, Intro. 482, incorporating many of the elements of both Intro 509 and the waste prevention practices bill, was introduced in December, 1998.  Many of the provisions in these bills were approved by the New York City Council in December, 2005.

    In the early 1990s the committee prepared recommendations on legislation on a wide range of waste prevention subjects, all of which appeared in the original DOS Solid Waste Management Plan as an appendix. 

  2. Budgets, Plans. Every year we testify at the City Council on the DOS' waste prevention budget, critiquing it, and proposing changes, where warranted. We have also testified on the DOS Solid Waste Management Plan and its periodic updates, as well as to the NYS Legislative Commission on Solid Waste Management, when the opportunity has arisen. When the Fresh Kills closure task forces were meeting in recent years, the committee provided input on waste prevention into their deliberations.
  3. Research. We have submitted recommendations as regards waste prevention research, including a call for waste prevention-oriented composition studies in order to facilitate design of waste prevention programs. A list of product and packaging, that we prepared, was researched as part of the SAIC research program, funded by DOS.
  4. Incentives. We have recently been promoting the concept of Quantity Based User Fees as a more equitable method of pricing solid waste management services in NYC. In over 5,000 communities in the US this mechanism has been responsible for more waste prevention and recycling than any other single approach.

Maggie Clarke
The Commitee is chaired by Marjorie J. (Maggie) Clarke (since 1991), and Vice Chaired by Frieda Bradlow. Meetings are held every one to three months, and agenda items include everything from writing testimony on bills and budgets for the City Council, participation in Manhattan Borough President and citywide solid waste management planning task forces, drafting of bills and plans, and advocacy. 

Since waste prevention is the highest priority in the solid waste hierarchy, and has historically been all but ignored by government at all levels, the more creative minds we have to help innovate new solutions in this area, the better.

Interested in joining this noble effort?  Write to the Waste Prevention Committee


The Waste Prevention Committee's Future Agenda

The committee can go in whatever direction its members want to take it.  We will, of course, pursue City Council passage of the newly introduced City Agencies Environmental Procurement and Waste Prevention Practices legislation (Intro 482).  Typically, whenever the City releases a draft Solid Waste Management Plan, our committee is called upon for expert advice and recommendations, not only by the SWAB, but also by the CRAB.  The same is true at budget season, in the spring of every year.  DOS has ongoing research in waste prevention conducted by SAIC, and now that the final studies have been released, we will study them further.

Other areas for committee work can include working with others besides the DOS, including the borough president, the comptroller, the public advocate, the state legislature, the NYS Legislative Commission for Solid Waste Management, and other organizations to advance waste prevention.  One of the ways to do this is to modify the State's Solid Waste Management Act so that there are mandated targets for waste prevention, recycling and composting (not just unenforceable goals), so that the City must have trackable milestones for accomplishing these mandated targets in their Solid Waste Management Plans, and so that the State can better enforce the Act against municipalities that do not comply with mandated targets or their own plans.  We can continue to develop and lobby for other forms of legislation on the city, state or federal level.   We can develop and followup on education, outreach, and/or research ideas that might be funded by the borough president and/or others.  We can work with other organizations who have a similar interest, on joint projects. We have a website that could be enlarged significantly and made useful to the public as an educational tool.  The possibilities are limitless.