New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos has recognized November 15th 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 Recycles Day is a reminder for all of us to commit to the core conservation principles of reduce, re-use, and recycle and do our part to help reduce waste going to landfills,” Commissioner Seggos said. “New York continues to be a national leader in developing recycling strategies, programs, and policies focused on reducing solid waste and protecting the environment. With the help of all New Yorkers, DEC remains focused on improving the recycling process and helping communities reach the state’s recycling goals.”
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 efforts help educate and inform New Yorkers about the advantages of waste reduction and recycling. Additional information about America Recycles Day events is available at the Keep America Beautiful America Recycles Day website at https://kab.org/programs/ard/.
New York State has a long history of implementing many 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 carbon dioxide emissions, energy usage, and the use of natural resources.
Over the last three decades, New York State has invested millions of dollars 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. Additional targeted funding and focus over the last several years includes food recovery, food waste collection, and organics recycling.
Additional programs to encourage waste diversion in New York include extended producer responsibility programs like the electronic equipment recycling and reuse act, the rechargeable battery recycling law, mercury thermostat collection act, and the drug take-back law, as well product stewardship programs such as the postconsumer paint collection act, lead-acid battery recycling law, and the bottle bill. Bans on single-use items such as plastic bags and expanded polystyrene (foam) reduce litter and make recycling programs more effective by removing these hard to recycle items from the recycling stream.
New York State partners with several of the state’s finest research institutions to help tackle the most pressing recycling challenges. In collaboration with the State University of New York (SUNY) University at Buffalo, SUNY Alfred, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and Stony Brook University, DEC, is working to increase the recyclability of glass, paper, and plastics, and to boost public awareness of best practices for reduction, reuse, and recycling.
How New Yorkers Can Help ‘Recycle Right’
To decrease contamination in recyclables 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 market value when they are clean and dry before being placed in the collection bin. One way contamination can happen is when non-recyclable items that are not accepted in a recycling program are placed in recycling bins throughout the act of “wish-cycling”. This causes recyclables to be mixed with non-recyclable material, which harms the recycling stream and reduces the value of recyclables.
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.
The New York State Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling law took effect this year, requiring businesses and institutions that produce two tons of wasted food per week or more to donate excess edible food and recycle all remaining food scraps through composting or other means if a local facility is able to accept the material. DEC is partnering with Feeding New York State and regional food banks, resulting in over one million extra pounds of food being donated to hungry New Yorkers, while reducing waste and climate-altering emissions caused by landfilling. DEC is partnering with the Center for EcoTechnology to create Rethink Food Waste NY, a program offering personalized recommendations for New York businesses, institutions, and organics recyclers to properly manage food waste and further develop food scraps recycling opportunities. Through a $2 million grant program, municipalities have an opportunity to further develop food scraps recycling initiatives, with prioritization to disadvantaged communities, to tackle food waste in their communities.
Tips to Recycle Right:
- Keep recyclable items loose in the bin; do not bag recyclables in 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 (unless specifically accepted by your local recycling program or recycling hauler);
- 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.
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