Department of Environmental Conservation

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Recycling and Composting

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Composting also including Product Stewardship

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At home, work and school, New Yorkers generate a lot of trash - and it's a mixed bag. We are making too much trash - over 4.5 pounds per person per day in NYS! We need to get out of the habit of throwing trash into one receptacle with cans, bottles, paper, garbage, banana peels, etc., all mixed together. Many of the items we are throwing away can be reused, recycled or composted, such as paper, glass, aluminum, metals as well as potato and carrot peels.

New York has approximately 30 landfills accepting approximately 6 million tons per year waste from across the entire state. We also send 2.5 million tons to waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities and export 6.1 million tons to neighboring states, in 2008.

What Should We Really Do With Our Trash? For starters...Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Compost as much as possible.

It is just a matter of learning new habits. Reduction, reuse, recycling and composting our trash will benefit all of us, our communities and our environment. Besides, it is the law!

Solid Waste Management Act of 1988

In the Solid Waste Management Act of 1988, the New York State Legislature established our State Solid Waste Management Policy. The following are the solid waste management priorities in New York State:

first, to reduce the amount of solid waste generated;
second, to reuse material for the purpose for which it was originally intended or to recycle material that cannot be reused;
third, to recover, in an environmentally acceptable manner, energy from solid waste that can not be economically and technically reused or recycled; and fourth, to dispose of solid waste that is not being reused, recycled or from which energy is not being recovered, by land burial or other methods approved by the department (from New York State Environmental Conservation Law 27-0106(1)).

Waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting has great benefits including:

  • energy savings;
  • pollution reduction;
  • reducing the ultimate volume of waste requiring disposal in landfills and WTE facilities;
  • fostering an environmental ethic among citizens;
  • increased carbon sequestration; and
  • conservation of natural resources.

Product Stewardship

Product Stewardship, is a policy program available to states and localities to further reduce our trash and costs related to its management. Product Stewardship, also known as extended producer responsibility, extends the role and responsibility of the manufacturer (also known the producer or brand owner) of a product or package to cover the entire life cycle, including ultimate disposition of that product or package at the end of its useful life. Product Stewardship has many benefits including saving to local government. Financial benefits take two forms: direct cost savings and no-cost expanded service.

More about Recycling and Composting:

  • NYS Postconsumer Paint Collection Program - Introduces the new Postconsumer Paint Collection Program signed into law in 2019.
  • Bag Waste Reduction Law - It is a new statewide law that requires certain retail and grocery stores to set up a recycling program for customers to return plastic bags for recycling.
  • Polystyrene Foam Ban - In 2020, New York State adopted the nation's strongest statewide ban of expanded polystyrene, single-use foam food containers and polystyrene packaging materials known as packing peanuts.
  • Electronic Waste Recycling - The NYS Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act was signed into law on May 28, 2010. The law will ensure that every New Yorker will have the opportunity to recycle their electronic waste in an environmentally responsible manner. The following page provides detailed information about the Law, as well as the responsibilities of those affected by the Law.
  • New York's Bottle Bill - Also known as the Returnable Container Act
  • Organic Materials Management - Organic materials come from living plants and animals and are best managed as a resource rather than a waste. From animal manure and crop residue, to leaves and grass, to the uneaten food generated daily in cafeterias, restaurants and homes, to food processing waste, organic materials are a part of life.
  • Product Stewardship - Product Stewardship, also known as extended producer responsibility (EPR), extends the role and responsibility of a manufacturer (also known as the producer or brand owner) of a product or package to cover the entire life cycle of the product.
  • Local Recycling Coordinator & DEC Recycling Contacts - List of local recycling coordinators and Statewide recycling organizations.
  • Waste Reduction - Focus on the prevention of solid waste generation through changes in products, packaging and purchasing.
  • Recycling Resources - Recycling and composting public outreach and education.
  • Recycling for Businesses - Information on how businesses can help the environment and save money.
  • Rechargeable Battery Recycling - The NYS Rechargeable Battery Recycling Act was signed into law on December 10, 2010 and requires manufacturers of covered rechargeable batteries to collect and recycle the batteries statewide in a manufacturer-funded program at no cost to consumers.
  • Local Material Exchanges - A list of organizations which may want your possessions. All items should be in working order and in resalable conditions.
  • More Things You Can Recycle - Information on how to recycle more items such as cell phones and batteries.
  • Close the Recycling Loop and Buy Recycled - When you buy recycled, you help Close the Recycling Loop.
  • Lead-Acid Batteries - The improper disposal of lead acid batteries is a direct threat to the health and safety of the citizens of this state.
  • Lead Wheel Weights - A new law was passed which established the prohibition of both the sale and use of wheel weights containing lead in New York State.