Governor Cuomo Directs DEC To Launch New Effort To Improve Recycling In New York

DEC to Hold Stakeholder Meetings to Identify New Actions in Response to Changes in Global Recycling Markets.

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Photo by: Hans

Albany, NY - August 13, 2018 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to identify new actions to improve recycling in New York in response to changes in global recycling markets. Recycling conserves natural resources, reduces the need for raw materials, and helps keep a significant amount of material out of the waste stream and out of landfills. To address changes in recycling markets head on, DEC is convening stakeholder meetings to identify new actions and initiatives that can be taken to improve conditions. The State continues to partner with municipalities to help meet specific recycling goals as part of solid waste management plans.
"Our recycling programs are putting thousands of New Yorkers to work in the state's green economy, while cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change and protecting our environment," Governor Cuomo said. "For 30 years, New Yorkers have proven the power of conservation, and these actions will jumpstart even more efforts to support and expand municipal recycling programs across this great state."
Recycling markets are currently experiencing unprecedented volatility due in part to tightening import restrictions in Asia. As a result, some U.S. recycling operations are struggling to find suitable markets for material, impacting local solid waste recycling efforts. DEC is working with key stakeholders and municipalities to strategize how New York can bolster new markets and help municipalities address these challenges and build capacity in the state and northeast region.
"Recycling is important to preserve natural resources and minimize materials in landfills," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This new effort by the Department of Environmental Conservation will help identify approaches to improve recycling throughout the state. We're partnering with municipalities to ensure communities and residents understand and follow recycling laws and keeping our environment clean and safe for future generations."
"DEC is working with recycling industry stakeholders, municipalities, academic institutions, and others to develop short- and long-term actions to sustain recycling markets in New York, improve the quality of recyclable materials, and increase flexibility for recycling facilities. To support recycling here at home, New Yorkers can do their part to reduce contamination in our recycling supply chain by following our tips to recycle right," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "DEC encourages all communities to continue recycling and to contact us if they are experiencing difficulties adapting to changes in global recycling markets."
Recycling is a valuable and sustainable method of waste management supported through a long-term consistent state commitment to the practice with the understanding that success and stability needs to be measured beyond any temporary market condition fluctuations. Through Beyond Waste, the State Solid Waste Management Plan, New York established a goal of reducing waste disposal rather than set specific quantitative recycling requirements. In turn, local solid waste planning units establish their own goals in consultation with DEC for waste reduction and recycling as part of local solid waste management plans. 
Working with Stakeholders and Partner Agencies to Develop Innovative Solutions
DEC will be holding a series of stakeholder meetings with representatives from industry, local government, state and federal agencies, and the public across the state to develop innovative and sustainable solutions for recycling in New York and identify open markets to utilize recyclables. The inaugural meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 29, at DEC headquarters in Albany, and DEC is scheduling additional meetings.
DEC will continue to work with partners to help support new and existing businesses in New York that can capitalize on the high supply of low cost recyclable materials that can serve as raw materials supply for future manufacturing that has been historically moving to other countries.
New York continues to help maintain the sustainability in the recycling industry by encouraging and helping municipalities and companies to maintain recycling efforts. The State provides recycling grants through the Environmental Protection Fund to support programs that encourage waste diversion, including multiple programs for usable food recovery, food waste collection, and organics recycling. Stewardship programs like the bottle bill, electronic waste reuse and recycling act, rechargeable battery recycling law, and mercury thermostat takeback program are among the programs that encourage and make recycling easy and cost effective.
NYCOM Executive Director Peter A. Baynes said, "NYCOM appreciates Governor Cuomo's proactive efforts to help local governments identify strategies and solutions to address this critically important environmental issue. We need to ensure that here in New York we are doing everything we can to respond to the changes in the recycling markets and we look forward to working with Commissioner Seggos and his staff to develop and implement actions that expand capacity and help local governments meet their recycling goals."
Stephen J. Acquario, executive director, NYS Association of Counties, said, "Local governments provide a critical role in sustainable waste management across the state. We commend the State's intervention to support municipal recycling programs in the face of global recycling market volatility that has caused unsustainable cost increases for municipalities. The state's action will help local governments to maintain recycling efforts that are essential for conserving natural resources and keeping unnecessary waste out of landfills."
Dereth Glance, Executive Director of Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency, said, "Global markets present unprecedented challenges to recycling, and I commend Governor Cuomo and DEC for launching this important initiative. The current recycling depression can be transferred to a recycling renaissance through creative and cooperative partnerships with businesses, citizens, and elected officials and we look forward to working with the state on this new initiative."
Gerry Geist, Executive Director of the Association of Towns, said, "The increased cost of recycling disposal is a growing issue for town government. We welcome participating in the conversation to create a sustainable solution that benefits both our environment and taxpayers."
Kelli Timbrook President of New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse & Recycling, said, "Over the past year, the New York State Association of Reduction, Reuse and Recycling (NYSAR3) has made educating the public about contamination free recycling streams a priority through partnerships with the DEC, municipalities and recycling entities across the state. We are pleased to see Governor Cuomo and the DEC support this position and take a leadership role in actively working to improve and strengthen the recycling markets in New York State. In addition to recycling right, NYSAR3 strongly encourages New York residents to practice source reduction -- the first of the three R's -- to decrease their consumption of items such as single-use plastics that significantly contribute to recycling contamination and hinder the marketability of other, higher value recyclables. NYSAR3 also encourages New York stakeholders to buy products made from recycled materials, which effectively "closes the recycling loop", creates economic support and demand for recyclables, and will contribute to a more sustainable and thriving New York."
Tips to Recycle Right
NYS General Municipal Law requires communities to develop and implement source separation laws for recyclables that have viable markets. To decrease the amount of non-recyclable material (or "contamination") in recyclables processed through single-stream facilities and therefore increase the marketability of the resultant recyclables, DEC encourages all New Yorkers to recycle right. Each community has specific recycling rules, and all New Yorkers should check with their municipality on the types of paper, metal, plastic and glass items that can be recycled in their specific community.  Recyclables have the best marketing value when they are clean and dry before being placed in the collection bin.
The following items should not be placed in recycling bins:
  • Materials not specifically included in your local recycling program.
  • Plastic bags. Keep recyclables loose in the bin and return clean empty plastic bags and film plastic to retail recycling locations (
  • Single use cups and plates, condiment packages, coffee pods, stirrers, straws, paper napkins.
  • Rechargeable batteries (return these to retail recycling locations: (
  • Yard trimmings and food scraps (compost at home or through local municipal program).
  • Dishware, mirrors, glassware and ceramics (donate if in good condition).
  • Textiles (donate if in good condition).
  • Electronic waste  (
  • Any type of rope, hose or twine.
DEC urges residents to "when in doubt, keep it out," because contamination in the recycling supply chain reduces the quality of recyclable materials. For more information, contact your local recycling coordinator which can be found at: or visit: for general recycling information.