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For Release: Monday, November 15, 2021

DEC Recognizes 'New York Recycles Day'

Annual Recycles Day Raises Awareness of Recycling's Benefits

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today recognized Nov. 15 as "New York Recycles Day," celebrating the state's leadership in promoting recycling and reducing waste. New York's efforts complement America Recycles Day, a national initiative to raise awareness of the economic, environmental, and social benefits of recycling.

"New York continues to lead the nation in developing forward-thinking recycling strategies, programs, and policies focused on reducing solid waste and protecting the environment," Commissioner Seggos said. "As recycling markets continue to fluctuate globally, DEC remains focused on streamlining the recycling process and helping communities reach recycling goals. On New York Recycles Day, I encourage all New Yorkers to commit to the core conservation principles of reduce, re-use, and recycle."

Across the state, individuals, community groups, businesses, schools, and government agencies celebrate New York Recycles Day in a variety of ways, from encouraging others to reduce their waste by pledging to start an office or school recycling program, participating in the New York Recycles poster contest, hosting a reuse exchange, and improving awareness of local recycling requirements. These combined efforts help educate and inform New Yorkers about the advantages of recycling. Additional information about America Recycles Day events (leaves DEC's website) is available at the Keep America Beautiful America Recycles Day website.

New York State has a long history of implementing some of the nation's strongest recycling initiatives, including the Solid Waste Management Act of 1988, which requires the separation of recyclable or reusable materials from solid waste and has inspired local source-separation programs across the state that have captured and diverted millions of tons of recyclable materials from disposal resulting in the reduction of CO2 emissions, energy usage, and the use of natural resources.

Over the last three decades, New York State has invested millions in recycling grants through the State's Environmental Protection Fund to support municipal waste reduction and recycling programs with recycling infrastructure, equipment, collection vehicles, local education and outreach programs, and municipal recycling coordinator salaries. Targeted funding and focus over the last several years include food recovery, food waste collection and organics recycling, as well as electronic waste recycling. Other programs designed to encourage waste diversion in New York include stewardship programs like the electronic waste reuse and recycling act, the rechargeable battery recycling law, mercury thermostat collection act, and the drug take-back law, as well as the lead-acid battery recycling law and the bottle bill.

In 2020, New York adopted the nation's strongest statewide ban of expanded polystyrene, single-use foam food and beverage containers, and polystyrene loose fill packaging materials, commonly known as packing peanuts. The ban will become effective on Jan. 1, 2022. Foam packaging is one of the top contributors of environmental litter, causing negative impacts to wildlife, waterways, and other natural resources, as well as littering our communities and natural areas. It is lightweight, breaks apart easily, and does not readily biodegrade. When polystyrene foam ends up as litter in the environment, it can persist for a long time and may also become microplastic pollution. In addition, foam containers and loose fill packaging, such as packing peanuts, are not accepted in most recycling programs in New York State because the foam is difficult to recycle and has a low value. Proposed Part 353 Expanded Polystyrene Foam Container and Loose Fill Packaging Reduction regulations to implement the provisions of the ban are available for public comment until Nov. 22.

To help achieve the State's waste reduction goals and keep land and waterways clean, the New York State Bag Reduction Act took effect on March 1, 2020. This act prohibits the distribution of plastic carryout bags by retailers in New York State and is significantly reducing plastic bag waste. Get more consumer information on the plastic bag ban.

To decrease contamination in recyclables processed through single-stream facilities and increase the marketability of those recyclables, DEC encourages all New Yorkers to 'recycle right.' Each community has specific recycling rules and all New Yorkers should check with their municipality or waste hauler on the types of paper, metal, plastic and glass items that can be recycled. Recyclables have the best marketing value when they are clean and dry before being placed in the collection bin.

Tips to Recycle Right:

  • Keep recyclable items loose in the bin; do not use plastic bags (unless required by your municipality or waste hauler);
  • Do not recycle single-use cups and plates, condiment packages, coffee pods, stirrers, straws, paper napkins; plastic cutlery;
  • Return rechargeable batteries to retail recycling locations;
  • Compost at home or send yard trimmings and food scraps to a local or municipal composting program;
  • Donate dishware, mirrors, glassware and ceramics if in good condition;
  • Donate textiles --even if there no longer wearable or useable, as long as they are clean, they can be recycled;
  • Do not put any type of rope, hose, or twine into your recycling bin; and
  • Return needles to appropriate collection locations. Visit DEC's Household Sharps webpage for more information.

DEC urges the public to "keep it out when in doubt," as contamination in the recycling supply chain reduces the quality of recyclable materials. For more information contact your local recycling coordinator or visit the DEC website for information and resources on the "Recycle Right NY" campaign.

Recycle Right NY graphic -know before you throw

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