Department of Environmental Conservation

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Waste Management and COVID-19

To reduce person-to-person contact and protect waste collection and disposal workers during the COVID-19 emergency, DEC is authorizing the use of alternative signature procedures for solid waste, hazardous waste, and low-level radioactive waste shipping papers. Please see this enforcement discretion letter for more information.

Waste and Recyclables Essential Services Statement

As identified in the Guidance on Executive Order 202.6, essential business or entities that are not required to reduce in-person workforce by 100% include "trash and recycling collection, processing and disposal services." The exclusion includes collection, transportation, processing and disposal activities for any solid wastes, regulated medical waste, hazardous wastes, radioactive wastes, and other associated waste categories. This also includes all recyclables including redemption of bottle bill containers. However, these business or entities should implement other appropriate social distancing practices whenever and wherever possible. Regulations associated with these activities continue to be in effect and any related questions should be directed to appropriate DEC program staff. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (links leave DEC's website) have all issued guidance associated with the coronavirus and waste management. In addition, the United States Composting Council (USCC) (link leaves DEC's website) has the following resources available:

In general, standard procedures for safe handling of residential and other waste types should continue to be used. Please contact the Department with any questions at dmm@dec.ny.gov.

Protocol for COVID-19 Testing

NYS Department of Health has released updated interim guidance on the protocol for COVID-19 testing (PDF, 149KB). This guidance is applicable to all healthcare facilities and local health departments.