For Release: Wednesday, May 5, 2010
DEC Releases Plan to Put New York on a Path "Beyond Waste"
New Direction in Solid Waste Management Focuses on Reducing Packaging and Waste and Using 'Greener' Materials
Setting a new direction for New York, State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis today 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 - 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. 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, the draft plan concludes. "Beyond Waste" is open to public comment through July 6 (see details below) and can be found on the DEC website.
"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," Commissioner Grannis said. "This plan is about changing the way we do things - by minimizing packaging, using better and '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
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 the 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, has been working with stakeholders for more than two years to discuss issues and gather input and direction.
"To get Beyond Waste, we need to involve everyone from school kids to government officials," Dimino said. "We started through the planning process, which included hundreds of stakeholders and more than a dozen advisors who worked together with our staff to discuss, debate and flesh out the many program and policy options included in the plan. We are grateful for their commitment and the plan is better for it."
"Resa and our DEC solid waste management team have exceeded my expectations to develop a plan that looks at the past and present of waste so that we can have a brighter future," the Commissioner added. "I thank them for their hard work and now look forward to the input and cooperation of New Yorkers as this plan moves forward."
The draft plan puts forward policy and programmatic tools and options for communities and for solid waste management planning units around the state. It will help 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 practice flow control or other oversight tools. The recommendations detailed in the plan include:
• A new broad policy with a focus on waste prevention.
• Support 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.
• 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. By shifting some responsibility, the plan also will aid local communities that currently shoulder the entire burden for waste disposal.
"The benefits of the plan are significant and far-reaching," the Commissioner said. New York already supports more than 32,000 jobs in recycling, and the plan projects that figure could grow substantially when the "Beyond Waste" plan 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 carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions and more than 250 trillion BTUs of energy each year - as much energy as is consumed by more than 2.5 million homes - would be saved and 74,000 jobs would be created.
A public comment period has been scheduled until July 6, 2010. Comments should be submitted to Ed Dassatti, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Solid and Hazardous Materials, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-7250. DEC will be holding a series of meetings about the plan at the following times and locations:
June 7, 2010: 5 p.m. Stony Brook University
School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Room 120
Endeavour Hall, South Campus
Stony Brook, New York 11790
631-444-0350 (directions is in the right column )
June 8, 2010: 5 p.m. New York City Department of Health
125 Worth Street
2nd Floor Auditorium
New York City, NY 10013
June 15, 2010: 5 p.m. NYSDEC Headquarters
Public Assembly Room 129A&B
Albany, NY 12233
June 23, 2010: 5 p.m. Sheridan Parkside Community Center
169 Sheridan Parkside Dr.
Tonawanda, NY 14150
June 24, 2010: 5 p.m. New York State Fairgrounds
Martha Eddy Room - located in the Art and Home Center
81 State Fair Blvd
Syracuse, NY 13209