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Reduce or Waste Reduction

Waste reduction is first in the hierarchy of waste management and focuses on the prevention of solid waste generation through changes in products, packaging and purchasing. Waste reduction is the design, manufacture, purchase or use of materials to reduce the volume or toxicity before they enter the waste stream. (Also known as source reduction.)

New York State's First Solid Waste Management Priority
The reduction of solid waste in New York State is first in the order of preference in the management of solid waste under the State Solid Waste Management Policy established in New York State's Environmental Conservation Law. Recent DEC waste reduction efforts have focused on the following general areas:

  • promotion and recognition of voluntary initiatives;
  • conducting an educational outreach program; and
  • working regionally for toxicity and volume reduction of packaging.

Public Education and Technical Assistance
Some ongoing DEC program efforts, which have led to the reduction of solid waste being produced and have contributed toward waste reduction goals, are:

  • providing technical assistance on waste reduction opportunities;
  • requiring all local planning units to include waste reduction initiatives in their local programs and detailing them in their comprehensive recycling analyses and local solid waste management plans;
  • encouraging municipalities to adopt quantity-based user fee disposal (pay per bag or pay per pound) programs which encourage individuals to dispose of less waste;
  • preparing and distributing educational publications on waste reduction opportunities and initiatives; and
  • educating local officials and the public at workshops, conferences, meetings and presentations as to the steps they can take to prevent waste.

Waste Reduction Educational Materials
Some of the DEC waste reduction educational materials available are:

  • Variable Rate Pricing - A Practical Guide for Local Decision Makers: A workbook designed to assist local officials, administrators, solid waste managers and coordinators, recyclers and others concerned about the management of municipal solid waste in evaluating, planning and implementing variable rate pricing
  • Let's Precycle: A pamphlet for the general public on waste reduction.
  • Waste Reduction at the Supermarket: A tipstrip for consumers on shopping with waste prevention in mind, developed through our grocery store waste prevention program.
  • Waste Reduction at New York State Supermarkets -- A Resource Guide for Store Managers and Others: An idea, reference and contact guide book for supermarket employees to reduce waste at their business.

Organic Waste Composting as a Waste Reduction Measure
Composting of organic waste can be an effective waste reduction measure to prevent organic materials from entering the waste stream. Yard waste, and some food wastes, provide some of the greatest waste reduction opportunities for residents through backyard composting, as well as leaving grass clippings on the lawn, or using leaves and grass clippings for mulch.

According to the USEPA report, Characterization of Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 1996 Update, these materials represent over 20% of the waste stream. In addition to reducing waste, grass clippings left on the lawn return nutrients to the soil. According to the Cornell University Waste Management Institute, every garbage bag of grass clippings contains up to one-quarter of a pound of organic nitrogen enrichment for a lawn.

More about Reduce or Waste Reduction:

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    Bureau of Waste Reduction & Recycling
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-7253
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