New York Recycles Day raises awareness of recycling’s benefits
On Friday, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos recognized Nov. 15 as "New York Recycles Day," celebrating the state's national leadership in promoting recycling and reducing waste. New York's efforts complement America Recycles Day, a national initiative to raise awareness of the economic, environmental and social benefits of reducing, reusing and recycling.
"New York remains a national leader in forward-thinking recycling strategies, programs and policies focused on responsible and sustainable stewardship to better protect the health of our communities and the environment,” Seggos said. “As global recycling markets fluctuate, it’s more important than ever that DEC continues to protect our natural resources. On New York Recycles Day, I encourage all New Yorkers to commit to the core conservation principles of reduce, re-use, and recycle to ensure the world is a better place for generations to come.”
Across the state, individuals, community groups, businesses, schools and government agencies celebrated New York Recycles Day in a variety of ways, from encouraging others to reduce their waste by pledging to start an office or school recycling program, participating in the NY Recycles poster contest, hosting a reuse exchange, and improving awareness of local recycling requirements.
A press release said, “These combined efforts help educate and inform New Yorkers about the advantages of the three R's through community events.”
Additional information about America Recycles Day events is available at the Keep America Beautiful America Recycles Day website (link leaves DEC's website).
NYS Solid Waste Management Act
The New York State Solid Waste Management Act of 1988, signed into law by Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, required municipalities to adopt local laws or ordinances by Sept. 1, 1992, requiring the separation and segregation of recyclable or reusable materials from solid waste. Since that time, local source-separation programs have captured and diverted more than 350 million tons of recyclable materials from disposal resulting in an estimated net emission reduction of 1.1 billion metric tons of CO2, the equivalent of taking 230 million cars off the road for one year.
Recycling Markets Experience Changing Trends
Recycling markets are experiencing volatility due to changing trends, particularly overseas.
The state of New York encourages all communities to continue recycling and to contact DEC if they are experiencing difficulties adapting to recycling markets.
At Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's direction – and recognizing current challenges – DEC is working with industry stakeholders, municipalities, academic institutions and others to develop short- and long-term actions to bolster recycling markets, expand recycling education and outreach strategies, and improve the quality of recyclable materials while providing increased flexibility for recycling facilities across New York.
In order to decrease contamination in recyclables processed through single-stream facilities and increase the marketability of the resultant recyclables, DEC encourages all New Yorkers to “recycle right.” Each community has specific recycling rules and all New Yorkers can check with their municipality on the types of paper, metal, plastic and glass items that can be recycled.
Recyclables have the best marketing value when they are clean and dry before being placed in the collection bin.
Tips to Recycle Right
•Keep recyclable items loose in the bin; do not use plastic bags;
•Do not recycle single-use cups and plates, condiment packages, coffee pods, stirrers, straws, paper napkins;
•Return rechargeable batteries to retail recycling locations;
•Compost at home or send yard trimmings and food scraps to a local or municipal composting program;
•Donate dishware, mirrors, glassware and ceramics if in good condition;
•Donate textiles if in good condition;
•Do not recycle any type of rope, hose, or twine; and
•Return needles to appropriate collection locations. Visit DEC's household sharps website for more information.
DEC urges the public to "keep it out when in doubt," as contamination in the recycling supply chain reduces the quality of recyclable materials. For more information, contact a local recycling coordinator or visit the DEC website for information and resources on the “Recycle Right NY” campaign: https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/116113.html.
NY Invests in Recycling
Over the past three decades, to help maintain sustainability in the recycling industry, New York has invested more than $242 million in recycling grants through the state’s Environmental Protection Fund to support municipal waste reduction and recycling programs with recycling infrastructure, equipment, collection vehicles, local education and outreach programs, and municipal recycling coordinator salaries. Targeted funding and focus over the last several years include food recovery, food waste collection and organics recycling, as well as electronic waste recycling.
Other programs designed to encourage waste diversion in New York include stewardship programs such as the electronic waste reuse and recycling act, the rechargeable battery recycling law, mercury thermostat collection act, and the drug take-back law, as well as the lead-acid battery recycling law and the bottle bill.
Recycling is required by law in New York to decrease the amount of waste sent to landfills and combustors, slow the rate of the extraction of raw materials from the earth, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce litter.
To help evaluate potential impacts, DEC tasked the Pollution Prevention Institute (P2I) to produce an impact study of the expansion of the bottle bill to include wine and liquor containers. The study finds that, using existing redemption rate values for containers under New York’s current bottle bill, expansion to include wine and liquor containers would increase the recycling rate of these bottles by approximately 65%. And in addition, that while there would be additional upfront and ongoing costs to the wine and liquor industry, local recycling programs would benefit financially from the removal of wine and liquor bottles from curbside recycling by not having to collect and process this material. In addition, New York would gain revenue through unclaimed deposits.
To conduct the study, P2I reviewed other U.S. “bottle bills” and laws covering wine and liquor sales, reviewed proposed bottle bill expansion legislation from the 2019 New York State Legislature session, gathered information from stakeholders to help assess potential impacts, identified the scope of the potential expansion to wine and liquor bottles, completed a high-level cost/benefit analysis, and assessed current available capacity to use more recycled glass.
NYS Bag Reduction Act
To assist in achieving the state’s waste reduction goals and keep land and waterways cleaner, the New York State Bag Reduction Act will take effect on March 1, 2020. This act prohibits the distribution of plastic carryout bags by retailers in New York and is expected to significantly reduce the nearly 23 billion plastic bags currently used each year by residents. For consumer information on the plastic bag ban, visit https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/50034.html.
New York Recycles Day recognizes the benefits of waste reduction, recycling and buying products made with recycled content, and promotes these practices in homes, businesses and schools. For additional information, visit DEC's recycling webpage.
Senate Environmental Conservation Committee Chairman Todd Kaminsky said, “As the world looks for ways to combat the plastic waste crisis, New York must take bold action. It is imperative that we do everything possible to increase recycling – and that includes all kinds of glass.”