New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced $2 million in new grant funding is now available to municipalities statewide to help establish or expand food scrap recycling programs and facilities. The first $1 million in grants will prioritize eligible projects that dedicate at least half of the funding to serving Environmental Justice communities to ensure these communities disproportionately overburdened by environmental pollution are able to participate in the initiative’s climate and waste-reduction benefits.
“Food scrap recycling infrastructure is critical to achieve New York’s waste diversion goals and these grants help ensure equitable access to this new funding opportunity,” said Commissioner Seggos. “Composting can help protect our shared environment by diverting food waste to help reduce our dependance on landfills, protect the planet from harmful methane emissions, and recycle organic nutrients back into the soil to grow healthy food. In addition, successful programs like the Food Donation and Food Waste Scraps Recycling Law support the State’s efforts under Governor Kathy Hochul’s leadership to reduce waste and climate-altering emissions while getting hundreds of thousands of pounds of quality food to New Yorkers in need.”
Commissioner Seggos celebrated the announcement at an event at the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center in the city of Albany with Mayor Kathy Sheehan, recognizing the city’s food scraps drop-off location and compost education program. The city received a $225,000 Food Waste Reduction grant from DEC in 2019 and is putting it to work in the community.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, “I want to thank Governor Hochul and Commissioner Seggos for investing in food scrap recycling programs and facilities on a local level. Funding waste diversion programs in an equitable way allows for increased participation in sustainable practices and provides nourishment to those with food insecurities. The benefits to our environment include reducing dependence on landfills and combustors and helping lower climate-altering emissions while producing valuable, nutrient-rich compost that improves soil health and water quality. New Yorkers are national leaders when it comes to sustainability, and effectively managing and recycling the waste we generate is in line with that precedent. What a wonderful way to recognize Compost Awareness Week here in Albany and across the State.”
Recycling food scraps, grass, leaves, yard clippings, and other organic materials through composting helps to lower climate-altering emissions from landfills and combustors, while producing valuable, nutrient-rich compost that improves soil health and water quality. Diverting organics from landfills is a component of the Draft Scoping Plan to implement New York’s ambitious Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The State’s Climate Action Council is holding a public hearing tomorrow in Brooklyn to receive comments on the draft Scoping Plan. Visit climate.ny.gov for more information.
The food scraps and compost initiatives targeted for funding in this round of DEC grants are among many efforts New York State is undertaking to promote both increased food donation and food scraps recycling. Earlier this year, the State implemented the New York State Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law, which requires businesses and institutions that generate an annual average of two tons of wasted food per week or more to donate excess edible food and recycle all remaining food scraps if they are within 25 miles of an organics recycler. Approximately 1,150 businesses across the state are required to donate, with 320 businesses also required to recycle their food scraps. DEC partnered with Feeding New York State, the food bank association of New York State, to provide assistance to businesses to help set up or enhance food donation programs. In the last six months since this successful partnership got underway, more than 440,000 pounds of edible food was donated to food banks and provided directly to people in need.
Feeding New York State Executive Director Dan Egan said, “The Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law is already having a big impact on families in need. We have seen a substantial increase in donations from 43 new donors, with more slated to come online shortly. Our partnership with Commissioner Seggos’ staff at DEC is what makes this possible. DEC funding and expertise has enabled us to visit dozens of potential new donors, manage new, high quality food donations, and divert over 400,000 pounds of perfectly good food away from landfills. This food is feeding people right now, and is proof that good public policy works. In the next few years our goal is to divert one million pounds per month of high quality food away from waste streams and put it to its intended use of feeding people. We thank Governor Hochul for her leadership on these issues, as well as the staff at DEC for their wonderful partnership in fighting hunger and sustaining the environment. Congratulations to Mayor Kathy Sheehan for this great step forward for Albany.”
To qualify for the municipal food scrap recycling grants, municipalities must submit an application to DEC. For additional information visit here.
This new funding is supported by the State Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Among the many environmental victories in the enacted 2022-23 State Budget, Governor Hochul and legislative leaders increased the EPF to $400 million, the highest-ever level of funding in the program’s history. This boost includes an increase of $500,000 for organics recycling that is part of a total increase of $3.7 million for municipal recycling over last year’s budget. The EPF supports climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, improves agricultural resources to promote sustainable agriculture, protects water sources, advances conservation efforts, and provides recreational opportunities for New Yorkers.
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