From the June 2010 issue
DEC Releases Plan to Put New York on a Path "Beyond Waste"
Setting a new direction for New York, DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis recently announced the release of the draft Solid Waste Management Plan, "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-increasing the use of materials that can be reused or recycled, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing green jobs and minimizing waste.
Implementation of the approach outlined in the report would reduce annual waste generation from 14 million tons in 2008, to 2 million tons by 2018
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. By recycling, composting, preventing waste and maximizing reuse, the draft plan concludes that 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.
"More and more, society is recognizing that throwing away the materials, products and packaging we bring into our homes and offices every day is not only bad for the planet and the climate, but bad for business and communities too," Grannis said. "This plan is about changing the way we do things-by minimizing packaging, using better, 'greener' materials, and reducing trips to the local landfill. Ultimately, it will result in decreased reliance on waste-disposal facilities and foster new jobs and a cleaner environment here in New York."
A Different Approach
Despite increased awareness by the public concerning recycling and reuse, only 20% of municipal solid waste is recycled now
New York last issued a Solid Waste Management Plan in 1987; a plan that was aggressive for its time. 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 municipal solid waste is being recycled.
Commissioner Grannis made it a priority for DEC to develop a new plan that takes stock of the current state of materials and waste management in the state and outlines a strategy to reinvigorate recycling and reverse trends of escalating waste. DEC staff, led by Special Assistant for Solid Waste Policy Resa Dimino, have been working with stakeholders for more than two years to discuss issues and gather input and direction.
The draft plan puts forward policy and program options for communities. It helps ensure waste reduction, reuse and materials recovery throughout the state-both in areas where there is a substantial private sector role, and in communities that use waste flow control or other oversight tools. The recommendations detailed in the plan include:
- A new solid-waste management policy focusing on waste prevention
- Support for progressive solid waste and sustainable materials management
- Education for consumers and businesses to help them reduce their generation of waste and recycle what cannot be reduced
- Stronger emphasis on product and packaging stewardship, to extend waste responsibility to manufacturers, thereby encouraging them to use more recyclable and less toxic materials. By shifting some responsibility for waste control to manufacturers, the plan will also aid local communities that currently shoulder the entire burden for waste disposal.
New York already supports more than 32,000 jobs in recycling, and the plan projects that figure could grow substantially when "Beyond Waste" is fully implemented. Using recycled materials instead of extracting and fabricating new ones conserves energy, curbs air and water pollution and helps in the fight against climate change. The plan estimates that nearly 23 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and more than 250 trillion BTUs of energy each year-as much as is consumed by more than 2.5 million homes-would be saved, and 74,000 jobs would be created.
Comment or Attend a Meeting
To review the draft plan, go to the Draft New York State Solid Waste Management Plan web page of DEC's website. The public is invited to comment on the plan until July 6, 2010. Comments should be submitted via e-mail to email@example.com or mailed to Ed Dassatti, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Solid and Hazardous Materials, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-7250. See the complete press release on Beyond Waste for times and locations of public meetings that have also been scheduled by DEC.