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Waste Reduction & Recycling at the Supermarket

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation estimates that New Yorkers annually generate about 28.8 million tons of solid waste. Approximately 13 percent of the municipal solid waste is packaging material from grocery store products (according to a 1992 Franklin Associates study, Grocery Packaging in Municipal Solid Waste).

That adds up to a lot. Not only to a lot of waste and use of natural resources, but a lot of money. Money that your community must spend to manage the waste, and money for the increase in cost that consumers must pay for packaging.

Grocery packaging's total contribution to the solid waste stream has been declining in recent years -- due to source reduction efforts by manufacturers, substitution of lighter weight materials and elimination of some unnecessary packaging. You can also significantly reduce the amount of waste generated by your shopping trips just by following a few simple guidelines.

Shopping With Waste Reduction in Mind

  • Bring Your Own Bag -- #BYOBagNY -- New York State's plastic bag ban took effect March 1, 2020.
  • Buy Products With the Smallest Amount of Unnecessary Packaging
    • Keep in mind, however, that some products must use additional packaging for health or safety reasons.
  • Buy Reusable, Recycled or Recyclable Products and Packaging
    • Look for reusable, durable alternatives to single-use products.
    • Look for recycled-content information on a product or package--buying recycled products helps to ensure a market for the materials we recycle.
    • Choose recyclable packaging, such as aluminum, steel, glass containers and certain plastics and paper board -- but make sure that the material is included for recycling in your local program.
  • Buy in Bulk
    • Save on packaging waste by using the bulk food bins (available in many supermarkets) for items such as nuts, candies, pasta, dried foods and fresh produce.
  • Buy Larger Sizes
    • The largest size package that you can use will save packaging and sometimes money.
  • Buy Concentrates
    • Concentrates save waste by not packaging water.

For more information on waste reduction and recycling:

Bureau of Waste Reduction and Recycling
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-7253
(518) 402-8706

Or contact your local Recycling Coordinator

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  • Contact for this Page
    Division of Materials Management
    Bureau of Waste Reduction & Recycling
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-7253
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