Attorney General Cuomo Announces Agreement With Major Nyc Grocery Delivery Service Fresh Direct To Cut Air Pollution From Delivery Trucks Across The City

NEW YORK, NY (April 24, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced he has reached an agreement with Fresh Direct, the New York City-based home grocery delivery company, that commits the company to adopting an innovative program for eliminating all non-essential idling by its fleet of roughly 100 delivery trucks. Fresh Direct will also pay a $50,000 penalty for violating state and city anti-idling laws.

Idling occurs when a vehicle’s engine is left running while the vehicle is parked. Idling cars and trucks are estimated to release thousands of tons of soot, smog, and other unhealthy pollutants into New York City’s air each year. These pollutants are linked to asthma, heart disease, cancer, and other serious health impacts, especially among children. Idling vehicles are also estimated to produce over 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide, a main global warming pollutant, in New York City each year.

“Pollution from the tailpipes of idling vehicles shouldn’t be contaminating the air where we live, work, and our children play,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “This agreement sets a new standard that goes even further than current anti-idling laws to reduce pollution caused by vehicles. I commend Fresh Direct for working with my office to establish an innovative anti-idling program. It is time for other companies with fleets of vehicles to follow Fresh Direct’s lead and prevent the wasteful and unnecessary pollution caused by idling.”

The agreement commits Fresh Direct to adopt a multi-faceted anti-idling program that includes measures that go beyond New York State and City anti-idling laws. Fresh Direct will adopt an innovative “Anti-Idling Program,” that includes installing electronic controls on delivery trucks that will help ensure compliance with City and State anti-idling laws by automatically turning off idling engines after three minutes. Fresh Direct will install the electronic anti-idling controls on its entire fleet of existing trucks within eight months and, beginning immediately, all new delivery trucks acquired by the company must come equipped with these controls.

Moreover, the agreement commits Fresh Direct to go beyond complying with City and State anti-idling laws and adopt a comprehensive “No Idling Policy” for the purpose of eliminating all truck idling not essential to business operations. To help ensure the success of this policy, Fresh Direct is required to implement a program of education and training, random monitoring, and compliance and enforcement. This program will be implemented within 60 days.

The agreement charges Fresh Direct a penalty of $120,000, with $70,000 suspended contingent on the company’s compliance with its terms.

The agreement stems from an investigation of the company initiated by the Attorney General’s office after receiving citizen complaints. The investigation documented at least 30 instances of illegal idling by Fresh Direct delivery trucks in different areas of the city. The agreement was reached with Fresh Direct, LLC, which sells groceries via the Internet to customers in areas of New York City, Westchester county, and Nassau county; U.T.F. Trucking, Inc., which delivers these groceries; and Fresh Direct Holdings, which owns both Fresh Direct and UTF.

Rebecca Kalin, Director of Asthma Free School Zone, which works to keep children in school by improving the air at school, said, “Asthma Free School Zone commends Attorney General Cuomo for moving to stop unnecessary and habitual idling on our neighborhood streets. The elimination of tailpipe fumes from one of our City’s most visible delivery businesses will not only benefit air quality but set an important example for other delivery businesses. By combining driver education with an automatic turn-off technology, the Attorney General’s agreement assures that the idea of freshness goes beyond the food we eat to the air we breathe.”

Isabelle Silverman, an attorney for the Living Cities program at Environmental Defense Fund, said, “We are pleased with the New York Attorney General’s office’s settlement with Fresh Direct because it will reduce harmful diesel pollution, which is linked to asthma, heart disease, and cancer in children. We hope that other truck companies also will install similar anti-idling technologies that will save them money and help improve New York City’s air quality.”

Today’s action reflects the Attorney General’s continuing commitment to enforcing environmental and anti-idling laws. New York State’s law limits “heavy duty vehicles,” such as trucks and buses, to five minutes of continuous idling. In New York City, no motor vehicle can legally idle continuously for more that three minutes; in areas adjacent to schools, idling is limited to no more than one minute.

Besides its public health and environmental impacts, idling also wastes fuel and, consequently, money. Each weekday, idling vehicles in New York City are collectively estimated to waste an average of 30,000 gallons of gasoline and 20,000 gallons of diesel - which translates into wasting tens of millions of dollars each year. In addition, idling unnecessarily adds to maintenance costs because vehicles are running longer.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Frank, under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General Andrew Gershon and Special Deputy Attorney General for Environmental Protection Katherine Kennedy.