NY DEC Unveils Draft Solid Waste Management Strategy for a Sustainable Future

Solid Waste Management green recycle symbol surrounded by trash

(Credit: Canva Pro)

by | Mar 21, 2023

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Solid Waste Management green recycle symbol surrounded by trash

(Credit: Canva Pro)

“Solid waste is the fourth-largest contributor to climate-altering greenhouse gases and New York’s efforts to reduce landfilled waste is critical to help meet the State’s ambitious climate goals,” Commissioner Seggos said. 

The plan, titled “Building the Circular Economy Through Sustainable Materials Management,” suggests measures to mitigate the environmental impact of solid waste. DEC’s program also offers guidance on how New York can invest in waste reduction, recycling, reuse, transportation, collection, and disposal policies over the next ten years.

Overview of DEC’s Solid Waste Management Plan

The plan prioritizes advancing a circular economy and promoting initiatives that aim to prevent environmental degradation and economic loss by reducing waste and ensuring valuable materials continue circulating in the economy. Further, this plan helps conserve natural resources, reduce energy consumption, prevent pollution, reduce emissions, and safeguard the health of communities. Specifically addressing unacceptable disproportionate burdens on Disadvantaged Communities and Potential Environmental Justice Areas.

  • Waste Prevention, Reduction, and Reuse
    • Increase participation in waste prevention, reduction, and reuse
    • Foster community resiliency through waste prevention, reduction, and reuse initiatives
  • Product Stewardship and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
    • Promote EPR legislation for packaging and paper products
    • Promote EPR framework legislation for priority products
      • Textiles, furniture, solar panels, wind turbine blades, and electric vehicle batteries
  • Recycling and Recycling Market Development and Resiliency
    • Support waste generators in improving recycling practices
    • Build capacity for processing secondary material commodities for recycling
  • Organics Reduction and Recycling
    • Prioritize food waste reduction, donation, and recycling in commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors.
    • Engage farming and agriculture community in organics waste reduction and use of waste-derived products.
  • Design and Operation of Solid Waste Management Facilities and Related Activities
    • Minimize GHG emissions from solid waste management facilities.
    • Investigate innovative means of reducing environmental impacts from solid waste management activities.

Statistics Behind the New Solid Waste Plan

According to 2021 data, New York City was faced with an estimated $458 million cost to recycle packaging and printed paper. Even smaller municipalities like Syracuse and North Tonawand are facing steep costs that could be significantly reduced with a change in packaging strategy.

Governor Hochul’s 2023-2024 Executive Budget includes the Waste Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act (WRRIA) to manage and reduce waste in New York State. The WRRIA initiative aims to increase recycling rates, save local governments tens of millions of dollars annually (up to $150 million in New York City alone), and protect the environment. Enhancing efforts to recycle solid waste more efficiently and is part of a broader plan to achieve the state’s sustainability goals.

New York’s 2050 Waste Management Goals

  • Landfilling will be reduced by 85% by 2050.
  • The circular economy is realized.
  • Collaboration and innovation are commonplace.
  • “Waste” is a concept of the past.
  • Climate change mitigation is fully implemented.
  • Shared responsibility is a given.
  • Equitable, inclusive, and accessible waste reduction and reuse efforts are widespread.
  • Responsible and resilient markets thrive.

“The draft Solid Waste Management Plan is a roadmap for more sustainable solid waste management. By focusing on reducing waste at its source, returning materials back to productive use, and diverting waste from landfills, harmful greenhouse gas emissions will be avoided while sustaining the supply chain.” – Commissioner Seggos

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