DEC Releases Draft Solid Waste Management Plan
On May 5, 2010, DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis announced the release of the draft Solid Waste Management Plan entitled “Beyond Waste: A Sustainable Materials Management Strategy for New York.”
The plan sets forth a new approach for the state – a shift from focusing on “end of pipe” waste management to reducing waste from the start – that will help minimize waste, increase the use of materials that can be reused or recycled, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase green jobs. The proposed solid waste management framework seeks to bring municipalities, businesses and individuals together to significantly reduce the amount of materials destined for landfills and municipal waste combustion.
According to DEC, by recycling, composting, preventing waste and maximizing reuse, waste would be reduced by 15 percent every two years -- from approximately 14 million tons (as collected in 2008) to 2 million tons annually in 2018. According to DEC, New York last issued a Solid Waste Management Plan in 1987. It placed a priority on preventing waste and made recycling mandatory. However, despite an increase in the awareness of recycling and reuse among the public and significant efforts by local governments, New York still generates about the same amount of waste today as in 1990 and only 20 percent of the municipal solid waste is being recycled.
The recommendations detailed in the plan include: (1) a new broad policy with a focus on waste prevention; (2) support for progressive solid waste and sustainable materials management; (3) education for consumers and businesses to help them reduce their generation of waste and recycle what cannot be reduced; and (4) a stronger emphasis on product and packaging stewardship, to extend waste responsibility to manufacturers and, thereby, encourage them to use more recyclable and less toxic materials.