Department of Environmental Conservation

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Help for Businesses

Businesses that use sound environmental decisions in their operations are the strongest, most successful enterprises in NYS. Whether your business needs help with a permit application (contact the appropriate regional permit administrator, or refer to our Permits webpage for more information), or you want to make your business greener, partnering with DEC early in the process is the best way to benefit the environment and your bottom line.

Sound environmental choices build successful businesses. Whatever your need, this is where to start.

Permit Information and Assistance

DEC can help your business grow in efficiency and in environmental stewardship by assisting you with the following:

DEC staff reviewing a plan
DEC can help your business grow both in
efficiency and environmental responsibility

Recent Legislation and News

The Postconsumer Paint Collection Program (leaves DEC website) requires producers of architectural paint to implement a postconsumer paint collection and recycling program following a plan approved by DEC. "Architectural paint" includes interior and exterior architectural coatings sold in containers of five gallons or less including house paints and primers (latex or oil-based), stains, deck and concrete sealers, and clear finishes (e.g. varnishes, shellacs). The program began on May 1, 2022.

As of January 1, 2022, no covered food service provider or store (retail or wholesale) is allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute disposable food service containers that contain expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam in New York. In addition, no manufacturer or store is allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute polystyrene loose fill packaging (commonly referred to as packing peanuts) in the state. Details about EPS foam container and EPS foam loose fill packaging alternatives, including information about specific material types and guidance on common packaging terminology, are available in DEC's Updated EPS alternatives Reference Guide in English (PDF, 3 MB) and Spanish (PDF, 3 MB). Learn more about the law, regulations, and how to go "foam free." Additional outreach materials are also available.

Also effective January 1, 2022, the NYS Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling law requires businesses and institutions that generate an annual average of two of wasted food per week or more must:

  1. donate excess edible food; and
  2. recycle all remaining food scraps if they are within 25 miles or an organics recycler (composting facility, anaerobic digester, etc.)

This law does NOT include: New York City (which already has a local law in place requiring the diversion of food scraps from disposal), hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, K-12 schools, and farms.

On March 1, 2020, the Plastic Bag Waste Reduction Law took effect. Learn what your business needs to know about this law and alternatives to single-use plastic bags. Additional information is available on film plastics recycling for manufacturers and retailers.

Environmental Audit Incentive Policy

Commissioner Policy 59- Environmental Audit Incentive (PDF) encourages regulated entities to audit their operations and adopt effective approaches to prevent violations, such as using environmental management systems and pollution prevention techniques. This will improve compliance with environmental laws statewide, and protect public health and the environment.

CP-59 reduces or waives penalties for violations that are discovered and disclosed voluntarily, and for violations discovered during pollution prevention or compliance assistance.

New Owners - If you are acquiring a business, the policy includes special provisions to encourage new owners to disclose violations discovered during acquisition.

Greening Your Business

Businesses face many challenges, but greening yours shouldn't be one of them. Improve your bottom line and incorporate sustainability into your everyday business practices.

DEC collaborates with the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute. NYSP2I offers unparalleled capabilities in remanufacturing, polymer processing, toxics reduction, resource conservation, and environmental engineering.

Source reduction is any activity that prevents the creation of solid waste at the point of generation. DEC offers tips to help your business operate successfully using source reduction techniques.

Your business may also be interested in the New York State Green Procurement Program (link leaves DEC's website). It develops specifications and provides guidance for state agencies, public authorities and public benefit corporations to purchase green products and services.

For product packaging, you will want to make sure you are familiar with New York State's Hazardous Packaging Law.

Air Regulations for Small Businesses

DEC provides Assistance with Air Regulations for Small Businesses.

There is new Rulemaking on Solvent Cleaning Processes and Industrial Cleaning Solvents under Part 226. Please refer to this fact sheet (PDF to learn about pollution prevention tips related to hazardous waste and air quality.

Waste Management and Beneficial Use Determinations

Additional resources are available to help businesses regarding solid waste, solid waste management facilities, and beneficial use determinations (BUDs). It is also necessary for businesses to know what steps to take regarding waste management, composting, and recycling.

In 2019, NYS passed the Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling law. Effective January 1, 2022, businesses who waste large quantities of food (defined as generating an annual average of two tons per week or more) must donate excess edible food and recycle all remaining food scraps if they are within 25 miles of a food scraps recycler (composting, anaerobic digestion, etc.) Examples of these large generators are grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, colleges, event centers, etc.

DEC encourages businesses, no matter the size, to evaluate the amount of wasted food and food scraps they generate and to rethink how they may reduce, donate and/or recycle this food. Learn more about wasted food and food scraps management for businesses.

Recycling for Businesses

DEC provides additional information regarding recycling for businesses. Topics include:

Contracting with DEC

DEC contracts for commodities and services that are needed to fulfill its mission, including promoting Minority and Women-Owned Businesses (M/WBE). DEC also contracts to provide state and local assistance funding to eligible recipients.

Additional Resources

DEC's Bureau of Waste Reduction and Recycling provides publications to assist small businesses and recommends practical source reduction tips for businesses. Meanwhile, the state's New York Business Express (leaves DEC website) offers additional guidance.

More about Help for Businesses:

  • Permit Information and Assistance - Explains how to obtain a permit or determine the status of a pending permit and links to other resources and technical assistance for businesses