Legislative Priorities for NYSAR 3

NYSAR3’s Mission 

To provide statewide leadership on waste reduction, reuse, and recycling issues and practices to improve the environment. 

For more than two decades, the New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling (NYSAR3), and its members from the public and private sectors, have played a leadership role in establishing environmental initiatives to reduce waste and increase recycling. A key part of that effort includes advancing state-level legislation with a twofold purpose: 

  • Promoting public and environmental health, and 
  • Creating the sustainable materials management economy of the future. 

NYSAR3supports statewide policies aimed at capturing more materials for recycling-related industries, which help to create a vibrant state economy and job growth. Many of these materials, including plastics, food scraps, and electronics, were formerly considered “waste” and were headed for disposal, but are now the raw materials for new products and materials and support tens of thousands of jobs throughout New York State. 

2021 Legislative Priorities for NYSAR3 

NYSAR3 Supports Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging and Paper Products: S.1185 (Kaminsky) NYSAR3supports Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for packaging and paper, requiring brand owners to cover the cost of recycling their materials at the end of life. These EPR programs encourage producers to reduce the amount of packaging and paper they use, redesign their packaging to be more readily recyclable, and take advantage of market forces to maximize material recovery. 

  • The proposed bill (S.1185) will provide critical financial support to local municipal curbside recycling programs, at a  time when they are struggling due to the collapse of markets and values for many of the commodities collected, which previously had supported much of the cost of local recycling programs. 
  • According to the EPA’s 2015 Fact Sheet on trends in Sustainable Materials Management, containers and packaging made up almost 30% of MSW generated. Of this almost 78 million tons of containers and packaging generated, only approximately half was recycled. 
  • EPR programs for packaging and printed paper are spreading rapidly around the world, with laws already in place in 34  European nations; 11 countries in Asia, South America, and Africa; Australia; and five Canadian provinces. 

NYSAR3 Supports Expansion of the Returnable Container Act: Article 27, Title 10 of the Environmental Conservation Law  (ECL), Sections 27-1001 to 27-1019 

The Returnable Container Act, known as the “Bottle Bill,” has been highly successful to reduce roadside litter and increase the recycling of containers. According to the NYSDEC, the Bottle Bill has reduced roadside container litter by 70  percent and helped to recycle over 336,000 tons of plastic, glass, and aluminum beverage containers in 2016. 

  • Collection of beverage containers through the provisions of the Bottle Bill provides a segregated, highly marketable, clean source of recyclable materials. 
  • Glass wine, spirit, and beverage containers comprise an estimated over 100,000 tons of curbside recyclables statewide.  These containers have limited marketability when collected through curbside recycling, can significantly affect the quality of non-glass materials, and cause damage to recycling facility equipment when comingled.
  • To increase the effectiveness of the Bottle Bill program and utilize the existing infrastructure to tackle recycling challenges associated with glass, NYSAR3 supports expansion of this program to include wine, liquor, and other glass beverage containers. These modifications will greatly advance glass recycling options that have been a problem for decades and reduce the financial burden such containers place on local municipalities as part of curbside recycling programs. NYSAR3opposes the inclusion of plastic and aluminum containers in a Bottle Bill expansion, as this would remove valuable recyclable commodities from existing recycling streams and financially undermine existing programs. 

NYSAR3 Supports Updates to the New York State Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act: S.8480 (Kaminsky), Same  as A.10662 (Hunter) 

The revisions proposed within S.8480 and A.10662 advance the legislative vision of year-long, no-cost, convenient drop-off of covered electronic equipment and relieve the funding burden that continues to face local governments,  which is particularly critical in this time of unprecedented financial pressures. 

  • Manufacturers have not consistently fulfilled their obligation within the existing Electronic Equipment Recycling and  Reuse Act to provide convenient, year-round, no-cost drop off to residents throughout New York State, and have further failed to manage, publicize, and adequately fund the program, leaving residents with insufficient opportunities to conveniently and properly dispose of their unwanted electronics in many communities throughout New York. As a  result, municipalities across the state too often continue to bear the burden of organizing the recovery, as well as providing public education about the program and paying the cost to recycle the materials. 
  • The proposal would amend the “convenience standard” within the existing Act in order to achieve the original legislative intent of year-long, no-cost, convenient drop-off of unwanted electronic equipment, through a system funded and managed by consumer electronics manufacturers. 
  • NYSAR3supports NYSDEC’s continued development of regulations to provide clarification and guidance to support the implementation of the Act. 

NYSAR3 Supports Product Stewardship for Alkaline Batteries: A.4105 (Englebright), Same as S.2610 (Metzger) 

Product stewardship for alkaline batteries requires battery manufacturers to take responsibility for the collection and proper management of their unwanted products at the end of their useful life. This would build on the existing rechargeable battery take-back program and provide a comprehensive program for common consumer batteries. 

  • Alkaline batteries contain metals such as zinc, manganese, and steel that can be recycled thereby reducing the need for mining and refining such materials. 
  • When producers are responsible for ensuring that their products are reused or recycled responsibly at the end of their useful life, there is an incentive to design and market products that are less toxic, more durable, and easier to reuse and recycle. 
  • NYSAR3 supports a Statewide Alkaline Battery Stewardship Program as presently embodied in New York State  Legislation A.4105 and S.2610, following the inclusion of provisions to increase the number of convenient drop-off locations in each county. 

NYSAR3 Supports Fair Repair Legislation: A.7535 (Stirpe) 

The promulgation of Fair Repair legislation will allow broader access to diagnostic and repair information and opportunities, in order to support the repair market and promote Fair Repair as a policy for waste reduction and reuse.  More repair options for consumers will slow the growth of many potential waste streams, enable more extended use of products through multiple owners, and help New York State divert waste to practical use. 

  • In fact, many items enter the waste stream because there are currently no viable repair options. The organizations that are in place for electronic repairs and repurposing are limited by a lack of access to basic information, parts, and tools.  Bill A.7535 would help to foster and grow these repair mechanisms.

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Legislative Initiatives for NYSAR3 

NYSAR3 Supports Extended Producer Responsibility Framework Legislation 

Extended Producer Responsibly (EPR) programs help reduce costs and environmental impacts of covered products at the end of their useful life by requiring manufacturers/brand owners to take ultimate financial responsibility for the management of these products at the end of their useful life. 

  • As initially proposed as a component of TED Article VII, Part SS of the Governor’s 2020/2021 Budget Proposal,  NYSAR3 supports the development of a “framework” legislation that requires NYSDEC to annually evaluate existing product stewardship programs and evaluate additional products to be covered under EPR laws.  
  • This framework would put in place a mechanism for NYSDEC to provide recommendations for future EPR legislation,  as well as provide guidance for proposed improvements to existing programs. 
  • As proposed within Part SS, NYSAR3specifically supports the development of EPR programs for the management of carpets and mattresses. 

NYSAR3 Supports Pay-As-You-Throw 

Pay-As-You-Throw is a program that incentivizes people to recycle, reuse, and compost more and generate less waste by charging for waste disposal based on how much is disposed of. This has been used widely for 30 years, employed in over 9,000 communities, and recommended by USEPA for decades. NYSAR3continues to support the consideration of legislation for the implementation of Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) techniques across New York State and allocation of resources for municipal entities to effectively implement these programs. 

  • PAYT programs internationally, nationally, regionally, and locally have been shown to universally increase recycling and waste diversion and decrease solid waste generation. The state of Vermont has implemented mandatory PAYT  (also referred to as unit-based pricing), and other state and local examples of PAYT programs include Iowa, Minnesota,  Oregon, and Wisconsin. 
  • PAYT programs create a direct economic incentive to generate less waste and compost or recycle more, as the decision to recycle is separated from the direct cost. 
  • NYSAR3continues to encourage further discussion on this topic and provide education for impacted stakeholders to promote this waste management strategy in New York State. 

NYSAR3 Supports Recycled Content Requirements to Enhance Markets 

The use of post-consumer recycled materials to produce new products provides a clear market for the collected recyclables and is central to developing and maintaining a circular economy. As manufacturers use these materials it creates a growing demand and helps make recycling programs more cost-effective.  

  • Recycled content for the production of many products and packaging is well established in a number of sectors (e.g.,  steel, aluminum, paper), but additional levels can be achieved. Other sectors will need legislative and policy actions to embrace the use of post-consumer content, including consideration of specific recycled content requirements.  
  • Plastic bags receive a lot of attention as being wasteful and part of the plastic pollution problem and most retail single-use plastic bags will be prohibited in NYS this year. However, the remaining film plastics have limited viable markets for recycling. Markets for film plastic have always been challenging, and with the advent of the Chinese National  Sword, markets for MRF film plastic is virtually non-existent. Mandated recycled content is one proven way to push the collection and recycling of the film plastic that will continue to be generated. 
  • Mandated recycled content for plastic trash bags will provide a strong market signal to plastic film recyclers to invest in additional processing capacity. This is already occurring in states like California. 
  • NYSAR3supports ambitious but achievable minimum content requirements for plastic trash bags sold in NYS, of 10%  by 2021, 15% by 2022, and 20% by 2024. 

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NYSAR3 Supports Improved Disaster Debris Management and Prevention 

In the aftermath of major flooding and other significant natural disasters, reusable, recyclable, and compostable materials are often burned or disposed of in ways that preclude the highest and best use of this material. NYSAR3 supports standard solid waste management plan requirements, best practices, and education to improve recovery,  recycling, and composting of disaster debris. 

  • NYSAR3supports allocation of funding for the purchase of publicly owned, regional mobile material recovery sorters and industrial wood chippers to facilitate the collection and processing of disaster debris. 
  • To reduce the quantity of debris generated from flooding, NYSAR3supports floodplain remapping efforts and common-sense zoning restrictions for development in flood hazard areas.  

NYSAR3 Supports Full Funding of the Environmental Protection Fund 

The Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) has continued to be a source of pride here in New York state by allocated funding for various environmental programs and projects and $300 million were included within the FY 2019-2020 state budget. 

  • Continuing the $300 million EPF enhances the state’s ability to leverage federal, local and private dollars, and enable communities to seize opportunities to implement programs that will make New York an attractive and healthy place for businesses to locate, and for families to live.  
  • NYSAR3particularly supports continuing the $15.312 million funding level for the Municipal Recycling Line of the  Solid Waste Account. This program assists municipalities with enhancing their recycling programs by providing funding for local governments to provide household hazardous waste programs, recycling education and coordination and making capital improvements to their recycling infrastructure.  
  • EPF programs continue to be implemented to conserve open space and farmland, protect and improve water quality,  build community resilience, sustainably revitalize waterfronts, create local parks and trails, promote recycling, reduce waste, prevent pollution, provide community health programs, support our zoos and botanical gardens and much more. 

NYSAR3 Supports Updates to the Solid Waste Management Act of 1988  

The State’s Solid Waste Management Act (Act) hasn’t been updated in over 30 years. NYSAR3urges the New York  State Legislature and NYSDEC to develop an updated materials management policy and legislation facilitating New  York State’s continued national leadership in sustainable materials management. 

  • The Act established New York State as a leader by identifying a forward-thinking materials management program that included requirements, funding, and guidance on waste reduction, reuse, and recycling. 
  • The Act is almost three decades old and significant policies and program changes have been developed since its adoption that needs to be included in a new comprehensive update. Programs like organics diversion, extended producer responsibility, and product and packaging disclosure should be addressed and included in such an update. 

NYSAR3 Supports Textile Recovery 

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation has determined that approximately 1.4 billion pounds of clothing and textiles are disposed of in the state each year. NYSAR3, the Secondary Materials, and Recycled Textiles (SMART)  Association, and the Council for Textile Recycling (CTR), have estimated that the market value of discarded textiles exceeds $130 million and over 1,000 jobs would be created if those materials were recovered for reuse and recycling. 

  • NYSAR3in partnership with CTR and SMART launched the Re-Clothe NY Coalition, which is working together to increase the amount of textiles recovered for reuse and recycling in New York State.  
  • NYSAR3and the Re-Clothe NY Coalition developed extensive public education resources as part of a statewide,  award-winning outreach campaign to promote textile reuse, recycling, and take-back programs. NYSAR3believes this material stream is ripe for greater diversion and is considering potential legislation to further support textile recovery in order to reduce waste, recover the value of the materials, and create jobs.