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In New York, some Staten Island landscape contractors have a trash problem. More specifically, they have a problem with some of their competitors cheating on the disposal of their organic material.  Many of the area’s landscape contractors are complaining to the city that some contractors are giving themselves an unfair advantage by not adhering to regulations. They are operating illegally, and there is little enforcement by the borough.  

The problem arises because landscape companies are required to dispose of yard waste at a waste transfer station or permitted composting facility. They must truck the waste up to 10 miles, and then pay $10 per cubic yard for its disposal. Some unscrupulous contractors, though, are just leaving the trash by homeowners’ curbs, or worse, dumping piles of yard waste along vacant roads.

Homeowners are allowed to leave yard waste at their curb for free pickup, but yard waste from professional landscaping is considered commercially collected waste, and is not extended the same perk.

Companies who follow the rules are complaining that those who break them have an unfair business advantage. The added costs are allowing law-breakers to undercut legitimate businesses, reportedly even forcing some to close. Contractors say the rules are not being enforced by the authorities, on top of already lax fines. A first offense costs just $250, while a third can run $2500, but if illegal dumpers aren’t even being pursued, then cheating becomes profitable.

All of this is in addition, business owners say, to the recent introduction of licensing fees, parking restrictions, and charges for compost. “How do I compete with someone who pays no taxes?” asked one Staten Island landscape contractor. The oppressive fees, coupled with cheaper competition, “are 100 percent driving me out of business.”

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