Mr. T Carting is one of the city’s longest-running private trash haulers. Founded in 1947 by the son of Italian Immigrants in Glendale, it’s also become one of the biggest in the city, collecting hundreds of tons of commercial waste every day.
Tom Toscano will soon mark two years as president of the company after taking over from his father, who built the business over several decades. The industry was shaken up in the 1990’s by investigations and arrests as city officials routed elements of organized crime that had taken hold.
Another major overhaul of the industry is set to begin soon, following years of back and forth over a set of bills that were signed into law earlier this month. City officials and advocates say the changes will bring needed safety and environmental improvements. Toscano was part of the group that bitterly opposed the new rules that will divide waste collection across the city into predetermined zones, and argues that the new system will lead to the end of smaller companies who won’t be able to compete.
Toscano suggested that the new regulation will simply result in smaller companies trying to maximize profits before getting pushed out of business when the zone system goes into effect.
“There’s so much uncertainty. What do you do from now till then? Do you invest in the safest truck?,” Toscano, 47, asked.
“There are bad carters out there, do something about them. Don’t destroy the whole thing, especially with a bad bill,” he said.
Mr. T Carting is actually one of the largest private trash haulers in the city, with a fleet of around 30 trucks servicing 7500 customers.
A promotional video for Mr. T shows employees exchanging hugs with customers outside a store in Queens. The business owner says he’s been with the company for 31 years.
“Customers have choice, and they’re very happy right now,” Toscano says. Under the new zone system, many business owners will see their menu of trash haulers reduced to just a handful. But supporters of the zone system don’t share the same concern about monopolies.
“Trash collection is working or it’s not working. There is no preference,” said Nicholas Rubino, who runs a catering service called Square Meals.
He said that his needs for more frequent recycling and compost service would be met under the zone system because carters could service more accounts in a shorter amount of time.
“People in my kitchen ask where the recycling goes,” he said, adding that infrequent recycling collection puts him at risk for failing health department inspections.
The new zone system would drastically cut down on the number of miles travelled by private sanitation trucks across the city and bring tightened recycling and compositing regulations.
Adam Mitchell, head of business development for Mr. T, echoed Toscano’s concerns about how much implementing the new rules will cost the city and what it means for smaller companies.
“It felt like the city was allowing capitalism to take away their business and give it to corporate America,” Mitchell said of the conversation around the reforms.
He argued that Mr. T Carting has long played by the rules, one of the reasons he joined the company in 1991.
“This company had no bad guys. they were fighting to keep the bad guys away.”
With the bills signed into law, the city’s Department of Sanitation will start taking proposals from companies who want to get in on the contracts in May.
The new rules will require a close examination of carting company safety records, and by most standards, Mr. T Carting is one of the safer haulers. But Mitchell still has reservations about the changes.
“Imagine you’re a 3rd generation business, you bought it from your father and you’re still paying him off, and a new law is going to put you out of business,” Mitchell said.
“This is a plan to squeeze capital that says we’re bad guys.”
With Chris Polansky