Norman Steisel
  Norman Steisel Sanitation Commissioner

In 1989, the New York Times ran an article titled “Man in the News; a Savvy and Efficient Manager. The article was about Norman Steisel and it began with the following two paragraphs:

“When Norman Steisel became New York City's Sanitation Commissioner in 1978, he inherited a department in chaos. Half the equipment was out of service, the work force was demoralized, there were no long-range plans to cope with a looming garbage crisis, and city streets from Riverdale to Far Rockaway were filthy.

But by 1986, when he left city government, his department had been transformed. Only 15 percent of the equipment was down, efficiency and morale had soared, plans for a $200 million capital-rebuilding program were under way, snow removal procedures had been improved and nearly three-quarters of the city streets were rated clean. “

Norman Steisel served as New York City’s Sanitation Commissioner from 1979 to 1986– the longest serving official in the 20th century.

Mr. Steisel was responsible for overall management of the $600 million department and distinguished himself by introducing numerous productivity initiatives— the most noteworthy was the introduction of a performance-based compensation program aligned with the policy of the replacement three man refuse collection crews with two-man crews.

This initiative resulted in annual savings of $100 million. Norman Steisel was an advocate of the bottle bill an innovation that was pivotal to its enactment into law. This innovation represented the beginnings of NYC’s efforts to encourage recycling initiatives. Mr. Steisel was also responsible for introducing the City's curbside collection program for household recyclable materials

Mr. Steisel was also instrumental in implementing a 10-year; $2.5 billion capital program to rebuild the city's failing waste disposal system that included a complete environmentally compliant upgrading of its landfill operations and the introduction of privately financed recycling and waste-to-energy facilities.

As Commissioner, Mr. Steisel was a founding member and served as the first President of the US Conference of Mayors National Resource Recovery Association, a consortium of public officials, technology providers, financial institutions, law firms and environmental consultants. This organization successfully lobbied the Congress to offer tax-exempt financing and grants for the construction of privately owned and operated waste-to-energy facilities as well as to establish attainable stack emissions and plant residue pollution control standards under the Clean Air Act.

For more information contact Norman Steisel at