Summer 2019 Waste Reduction & Diversion Policy Briefing




First we would like to highlight a few great pieces of waste legislation recently passed around the world:

  • Canada Plans to Ban Single-Use Plastics

  • France to End Disposal of $900 Million in Unsold Goods Each Year

  • Maine, Vermont and Oregon will ban single-use plastic bags, bringing the total to six states (in addition to California, Hawaii, and New York). Delaware’s governor is also expected to sign a ban

  • Vermont will also ban polystyrene (Styrofoam) food service products like cups and takeout containers. Oregon also banned the distribution of single-use plastic straws except upon request


Looking at the NY Tri-State area, there’s good news, as well. New York State Senate banned plastic bags (to go into effect March 2020), and passed the nation’s most ambitious climate change bill. Once it is signed by the governor, it will require that 70% of statewide electricity come from renewable energy systems (wind, solar, hydropower) by 2030, among other measures.


Also in the New York State Senate there are a growing list of proposed extended producer responsibility laws for items like paint, carpets, and batteries. These would be specialty recycling programs funded by the manufacturers, to be used by consumers free of charge. They would require manufacturers to also pay for public education campaigns around recycling these products.


In May, NYC’s City Council passed a resolution declaring a climate emergency, and calling for an immediate emergency mobilization to restore a safe climate. NYC joins nearly 400 cities, districts, and counties across the world--including Hoboken, Los Angeles, Bristol, and London--that have collectively declared the existence of a global climate emergency. Read more about Res. No. 864 here.


New York City has a number of proposed legislation related to single-use plastics, including banning single-use plastic straws and stirrers in restaurants (with exception for medical needs) and banning the sale of single-use bottles in city parks and beaches.


Also in New York City, there is planning for a commercial waste zoning system which is being led by the Department of Sanitation. Creating a commercial waste zoning system would dramatically reduce vehicle miles traveled, harmful air emissions, diesel fuel consumed, traffic congestion, nighttime noise, and roadway wear and tear. At this point, it seems that there will be some sort of commercial waste zoning system within the next few years, but there are differing opinions on what this will look like and whether it will be exclusive, one hauler per zone, or non-exclusive, multiple haulers per zone.


Below are more details on the most recent New York State and New York City regulations and pending legislation concerning waste diversion and reduction. Please note that pending legislation is subject to change, or may not pass at all; the final regulations may differ from what is discussed in this update or may never become law.


The laws and regulations currently or soon to be enforced include:

  • NY State 2020 Budget: Plastic bag ban

  • NYC Local Law No. 142: Restrictions on the sale or use of certain expanded polystyrene items

  • NYC Res 0864-2019: Resolution declaring a climate emergency and calling for an immediate emergency mobilization to restore a safe climate

  • NYC Local Law No. 22 of 2019: City agencies’ organics collection

  • NYC Local Law No. 56 of 2019: Providing information to private sanitation employees

  • NYC Local Law No. 57 of 2019: Referral of labor and wage violations

The proposed rules or regulations include:

  • Senate Bill S4351 / Assembly Bill A6373: Establishes a postconsumer paint collection program

  • Senate Bill S6599: Relates to the New York state climate leadership and community protection act

  • Senate Bill S2995 / Assembly Bill A3672: Relates to the donation of excess food and recycling of food scraps

  • Senate Bill S2327: Establishes a carpet stewardship program

  • Senate Bill S1587: Requires contractors in certain large cities to recycle 50% of the waste generated on construction and demolition sites

  • Senate Bill S2234: Relates to the recycling of plastic bags

  • Senate Bill S4337: Requires New York City to collect discarded recyclable materials at city parks, playgrounds, historic sites and other facilities

  • Senate Bill S4718: Relates to establishing an oyster shell recycling tax credit

  • Senate Bill S891: Provides for the payment of compensation by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to electronic waste collection sites, collection facilities and recycling facilities

  • Senate Bill S2610: Relates to establishing a product stewardship program for primary batteries

  • Assembly Bill A3892: Establishes a cigarette butt recycling program

  • Assembly Bill A5956: Provides for the recovery, reuse and recycling of hardcover books

  • Assembly Bill A05028: Relates to returnable bottles

  • New York City Council Int. No. 1574: Establishment of commercial waste zones

  • New York City Council Int. No. 1082: Requiring GPS in certain waste hauling vehicles

  • NYC City Council Int. No. 0936: Prohibiting single-use plastic beverage straws and beverage stirrers

  • NYC City Council Int. No. 0839: Prohibiting the sale of single-use bottles at city parks and beaches

  • NYC City Council Int. No. 1407: Amend the administrative code of the City of New York, in relation to the restrictions on certain single-use plastics

  • NYC City Council Int. No. 1416: Use of reusable beverage containers provided by customers at food service establishments

  • New York City Council T2019-4300: Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to single-use utensils

  • NYC City Council Int 1573: Regulating the trade waste industry

  • NYC City Council Int 1083: Fines for unreported employees

  • NYC City Council Int 1084: Number of employees on trade waste hauling vehicles


RECENTLY PASSED LEGISLATION


NY State 2020 Budget: Plastic bag ban

Status: Law

Jurisdiction: New York State

Enforcement Date: March 1, 2020


NY State’s 2020 Budget included legislation to ban single-use plastic bags provided to customers and allows counties and cities to opt in to a 5-cent fee on paper bags, with 40% of the revenue supporting local programs to buy reusable bags for low and fixed income consumers and 60% of the revenue supporting programs in the State’s Environmental Protection Fund.


The single-use plastic bag ban does not apply to garment bags, newspaper bags, and bags sold in bulk (i.e. trash bags). In addition, those who receive SNAP or WIC benefits are exempted from the 5-cent fee in places that opt in.


New York became the third state to ban single-use plastic bags, after California and Hawaii.


NYC Local Law No. 142: Restrictions on the Sale or Use of Certain Expanded Polystyrene Items

Status: Law

Jurisdiction: New York City

Enforcement Date: July 1, 2019


This law, first introduced in 2013, prohibits all food service establishments, mobile food commissaries, or stores to possess, sell, or offer single-use items made of expanded polystyrene (commonly known as Styrofoam), such as take-out containers and coffee cups. The law does not apply to expanded polystyrene containers for prepackaged food that was filled and sealed prior to receipt by the retailer, such as raw meat trays sold by a grocer or containers sold by a butcher case. This legislation also bans manufacturers and stores from selling or offering polystyrene loose fill packaging such as packing peanuts.


The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Consumer Affairs will enforce the provisions of this law. Violation will result in a $250 fine for the first offense, a $500 fine for the second offense, and a $1,000 fine for the third and each subsequent offense within the same year.


Note: NYC joins a growing number of cities that have banned polystyrene. This shows a list of where the bans have been passed.


NYC Local Law No. 22 of 2019: City agencies’ organics collection

Jurisdiction: New York City

Enforcement Date: July 1, 2019


This law mandates the Department of Sanitation establish a pilot program to collect organics from buildings wholly occupied by one or more city agencies and institutional special use buildings. The pilot will be in at least three boroughs, include at least 15 buildings, and last through at least June 30, 2021.


NYC Local Law No. 55 of 2019: Trade waste industry labor unions

Jurisdiction: New York City

Enforcement Date: July 16, 2019.


This law mandates that the Business Integrity Commission (BIC) issue and establish standards for the registration of labor unions in the trade waste industry.

The law was approved by the Mayor on March 18, 2019, and goes into effect 120 days after.

ProPublica previously reported on issues with certain labor unions in the waste industry.


Read their report here.


NYC Local Law No. 56 of 2019: Providing information to private sanitation employees

Jurisdiction: New York City

Enforcement Date: December 13, 2019


This law requires BIC to provide information about workers’ rights on their website and mandate that private carters registered by BIC provide information about workers’ rights directly to their employees.


The haulers must communicate to their workers the maximum number of hours they are permitted to work in a twenty-four hour period; minimum wage; any required worker safety trainings; information regarding what safety equipment must be provided by employers; a description of how to contact BIC to lodge a complaint; and a list of additional government agencies and their contact information that accept complaints about violations of workers’ rights.


This was approved by the Mayor on March 18, 2019, and goes into effect 270 days after.


NYC Local Law No. 57 of 2019: Referral of labor and wage violations

Jurisdiction: New York City

Enforcement Date: March 19, 2019


This law requires BIC to refer labor and wage violation cases involving private carters to the New York State Attorney General, the United States Department of Labor, or other relevant city, state, or federal law enforcement agencies.


The labor and wage violations are defined as egregious or habitual nonpayment or underpayment of wages that constitute a significant violation of city, state or federal labor or employment law.


PENDING LEGISLATION


Senate Bill S4351 / Assembly Bill A6373: Establishes a postconsumer paint collection program

Jurisdiction: New York State

Status: Passed NY Senate (unanimously) and Assembly. Awaiting governor’s action


This bill would require paint manufacturers to be responsible for managing the recycling and disposal of unused paint. Local governments would save approximately $25 million annually. The national Product Stewardship Institute has estimated that 3.1 million gallons of paint go unused each year in New York State.


Nine states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) have already implemented “Paint Stewardship Programs.” Since implementing its program in July 2010, Oregon has collected and recycled over 1,000,000 gallons of paint.


Senate Bill S6599: Relates to the New York state climate leadership and community protection act

Jurisdiction: New York State

Status: Passed NY Senate and Assembly. Awaiting governor’s action

This bill would require:

  • 70% of statewide electricity from renewable energy systems (wind, solar, hydropower) by 2030

  • Zero emissions from electricity by 2040

  • Reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050, using 1990 as a baseline (so far, New York reduced its emissions 8% between 1990 and 2015)

  • Net zero greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors of the economy by 2050, possibly through offsetting carbon

  • Provide additional authority for state agencies to promulgate greenhouse gas regulations

  • Require the Department of Environmental Conservation to consider climate change in permitting decisions


This bill would set the most aggressive emissions targets in the country.

Senate Bill S2995 / Assembly Bill A3672: Relates to the donation of excess food and recycling of food scraps

Jurisdiction: New York State

Status: In Senate Environmental Conservation Committee

This bill would require all places that generate large quantities of excess food in NY State (such as supermarkets, colleges, and hospitals) to donate edible items to hunger-relief organizations and recycle (compost or anaerobically digest) the rest.


Senate Bill S2327: Establishes a carpet stewardship program

Jurisdiction: New York State

Status: In Senate Environmental Conservation Committee

This bill would create a carpet stewardship program, where manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and recyclers would be required to recycle old carpets.


Senate Bill S1587: Requires contractors in certain large cities to recycle 50% of the waste generated on construction and demolition sites

Jurisdiction: New York State

Status: In Senate Committee


This bill would require cities having a population of one million or more to recycle 50% of the waste generated on construction and demolition sites. Contractors would be required to

document their Construction and Demolition debris recycling and reuse. Currently, New York City has a voluntary Construction and Demolition reuse and recycling program; there is no requirement to do so.


Senate Bill S2234: Relates to the recycling of plastic bags

Jurisdiction: New York State

Status: In Senate Environmental Conservation Committee

This bill would require a greater number of stores in New York City to provide a recycling bin for collecting unwanted plastic bags. This bill also would grant co-enforcement authority to the City over certain provisions of the law.


Senate Bill S4337: Requires N.Y. city to collect discarded recyclable materials at city parks, playgrounds, historic sites and other facilities

Jurisdiction: New York State

Status: Passed Senate

This bill would require cities with a population of one million or more to collect discarded recyclable materials at city parks, playgrounds, historic sites and other recreational facilities.


Senate Bill S4718: Relates to establishing an oyster shell recycling tax credit

Jurisdiction: New York State

Status: In Senate Budget And Revenue Committee


This bill would provide a tax credit of $0.10 for each pound of oyster shells recycled during the tax year, not to exceed $1,000 per taxpayer. Other states, such as Maryland and North Carolina, already have similar legislation in place to encourage more oyster shell recycling.


Oysters are responsible for filtering water, providing habitats for other marine species, and reducing wave and tidal energy. They also prevent algae blooms, which can block sunlight that underwater plants need to survive. Currently, certain restaurants voluntarily donate their oyster shells to nonprofits like Billion Oyster Project, which use the shells to restore NYC’s harbors. However, these restaurants incurs time and expense for its employees to collect and prepare the oysters shells for donations. This bill would incentivize and reward oyster shell donations.


Senate Bill S891: Provides for the payment of compensation by the department of environmental conservation to electronic waste collection sites, collection facilities and recycling facilities

Jurisdiction: New York State

Status: In Senate Environmental Conservation Committee


This bill would provide state compensation for the recycling of electronic waste for costs that are not paid by the electronics manufacturer. Electronic waste collection sites, consolidation facilities and recycling facilities would be eligible to receive this money from the Department of Environmental Conservation.


This would amend the "NYS Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act" from 2010.


Senate Bill S2610: Relates to establishing a product stewardship program for primary batteries

Jurisdiction: New York State

Status: In Senate Environmental Conservation Committee


This bill would establish a free battery recycling program for consumers, to be paid for by battery manufacturers. Manufacturers would also need to educate consumers about the program and provide a yearly report.


Failure to recycle batteries can lead to toxic materials leaking into the soil from landfills, and if incinerated batteries produce toxic fumes.


Currently, manufacturers are required to collect and recycle rechargeable batteries in a manufacturer-funded program, at no cost to consumers. This legislation would expand this program to all batteries.


Assembly Bill A3892: Establishes a cigarette butt recycling program

Jurisdiction: New York State

Status: In Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee


This bill would create a statewide program for the collection and recycling of cigarette butts. It would create a deposit and refund value for individual cigarette butts returned to collection facilities.

It would also establish a public education and marketing campaign to educate the public on the harm cigarette butts cause to the environment, and would work with cigarette manufacturers to implement anti-litter messages on their packaging.


Assembly Bill A5956: Provides for the recovery, reuse and recycling of hardcover books

Jurisdiction: New York State

Status: In Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee

This bill would require the recovery, reuse and recycling of hardcover books. Hardcover books would be prohibited from being thrown out.


Assembly Bill A05028: Relates to returnable bottles

Jurisdiction: New York State

Status: Referred to Assembly Ways & Means Committee

This bill would expand New York State’s existing Bottle Bill, established in 1985, whereby people receive 5 cents back for returning certain bottles to stores. Currently, the 5 cent redemption applies to carbonated soft drinks, water, beer, and other malt beverages. This bill would add a 5 cent deposit to more alcoholic and nonalcoholic bottles including all wine, liquor, cider, noncarbonated soft drinks (i.e sports drinks), noncarbonated fruit or vegetable juices, coffee and tea beverages, and carbonated fruit beverages.


The NRDC opposes this bill on the basis that this will hurt municipal recycling systems. Eric Goldstein, NRDC’s Senior Attorney and New York City Environment Director, wrote:


“This innocuous-sounding proposal would remove many PET and HDPE (plastics #1 and #2) bottles, as well as aluminum cans, from the materials that are presently set out for municipal recycling collections.


But these commodities have real value. They are materials that municipal recycling programs sell in the marketplace. And such sales help ensure the economic viability of curbside recycling and compost collection programs.


Removing these valuable materials from the mix of recyclables that would be deposited in local trash collections and sent to municipal recycling facilities would punch a hole in the economic model of curbside recycling. And such a jolt would come at a time when municipal recycling facilities are already reeling from the recent loss of China as a market for many of their recyclables.”


This bill also calls for a minimum of post consumer recycled content, which would help support local recycling markets. It would require as of January 1, 2022 that every:

  • PET plastic beverage container have at least 25% post-consumer PET

  • Plastic beverage container have at least 30% post-consumer plastic

  • Glass beverage container have at least 35% post-consumer glass

  • Aluminum beverage have at least 35% post-consumer aluminum


New York City Council Int. No. 1574: Establishment of commercial waste zones

Jurisdiction: New York City

Status: Laid over in Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management


In an effort to improve safety and reduce pollution and traffic, the de Blasio Administration has proposed a plan that would create a zoning system for private waste collection. In October 2015, DSNY studied the current commercial waste collection system, and found that it is highly inefficient.

The study recommended divvying up the five boroughs into 20 zones of roughly equal business customers, and allowing 3-5 haulers per zone. This would:

  • Reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) between 49% and 68%, with the largest decreases occurring in Manhattan and the Bronx

  • Reduce harmful air emissions substantially, including a potential reduction of 42% - 64% in greenhouse gas emissions and a reduction of 34% - 62% in criteria air pollutants, which are linked to asthma and other respiratory illnesses

  • Decrease the waste cost for small customers, which pay approximately 38% more than larger customers for their trash removal, largely because there is little transparency in rates and because smaller customers have reduced bargaining power

  • Reduced traffic congestion

  • Reduce nighttime noise associated with duplicative collections

  • Reduce diesel fuel oil consumption by 3.5 million gallons per year

  • Reduce roadway wear and tear

In the bill put forth by the New York City Council, there would be 20 zones with one awardee per zone to conduct commercial waste removal.


Robert Orlin, Deputy Commissioner of DSNY, commented during a hearing, “Having just one carter in each zone, rather than three to five carters, would achieve only marginal environmental improvements… but would lead to far greater disruption to an industry vital to the health and safety of our city and its customers. Only a few large carters operating today have the resources and capital to viably compete to be the sole service provider for any zone. In an exclusive system nearly all small and medium-sized carters would automatically be wiped out. ...An exclusive zone model would create a monopoly within each zone, eliminating business’ leverage and creating a lopsided power dynamic between carter and customer. In this monopolistic system, carters would have no incentive to offer less than the maximum price, and without pressure from regulated competition, service quality would suffer.”


The council bill also limits the amount that microhaulers, which are mostly community composters, can collect to 60 tons per year. This cap would shut down most existing microhaulers.

The bill would require haulers to offer organics (i.e. composting) collection services, that organics and recycle be less expensive than trash, and that haulers offer third-party waste audit services to all customers.


The bill excludes certain waste streams including construction and demolition (C&D) debris, hazardous or radioactive waste, medical waste, electronic waste, textiles, yard waste (collected by landscapers), junk hauler waste or one-time bulk waste services, grease, and papers collected for the purposes of shredding or destruction.


It would take 18 months before it comes into effect.


New York City Council Int. No. 1082: Requiring GPS in certain waste hauling vehicles

Jurisdiction: New York City

Status: Laid over in Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management

This would require companies licensed by or registered with BIC to track location and speed data and report that data to BIC. This bill would also require BIC to report instances of speeding or other traffic violations to the mayor or the city council. This local law would take effect immediately.


New York City Council Int. No. 936: Prohibiting single-use plastic beverage straws and beverage stirrers

Jurisdiction: New York City

Status: Laid Over in Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing

This bill would prohibit all food service establishments from offering single-use drinking straws and stirrers made of plastic or any other material that does not degrade into natural materials within one year. Food services will need to either eliminate straw usage, switch to straws made of biodegradable material, or switch to reusable straws such as those made of bamboo or stainless steel. Food services may provide straws of any kind to customers with medical conditions that require the use of a straw.


This law will be enforced by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Sanitation. Violations will result in a $100 fine on the first offense, $200 for the second offense, and $400 for the third and all other subsequent offenses. The bill will take effect 180 days after it becomes law.


New York City Council Int. No. 0839: Prohibiting the sale of single-use bottles at city parks and beaches

Jurisdiction: New York City

Status: In Committee on Parks and Recreation

This bill would prohibit any person from selling, or distributing for commercial purposes, single use bottles at beaches or parks under the jurisdiction of the City Department of Parks and Recreation. The bill would provide for exceptions for large athletic events and events where the sponsor demonstrates that the prohibition would pose a health risk to participants.


New York City Council Int. No. 1407: Amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to the restrictions on certain single-use plastics

Jurisdiction: New York City

Status: In Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing

The proposed legislation would require the department of Consumer Affairs, in consultation with the department of Sanitation and the department of Environmental Protection, to review items made with single use plastics at least annually and ban those items for which reasonable alternatives are available.


New York City Council Int. No. 1416: Use of reusable beverage containers provided by customers at food service establishments

Jurisdiction: New York City

Status: In Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing

This bill would prohibit food service establishments that serve beverages in single-use containers from refusing the request of a customer who asks for a beverage to be served in a reusable beverage container provided by the customer instead of the establishment’s single-use container, provided that the beverage container is capable and appropriate for serving such beverage. (Right now, food service establishments legally may serve beverages in a customer’s reusable beverage container, but can also legally refuse doing so.)

In addition, this bill would require such food service establishments to have signs informing customers that they may request service of beverages in their own reusable containers.


New York City Council T2019-4300: Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to single-use utensils

Jurisdiction: New York City

Status: Introduced to Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing

This bill would require food service establishments to only provide single-use utensils upon request for takeout, or delivery, and to not provide single-use utensils for dining in.


New York City Council Int 1573: Regulating the trade waste industry

Jurisdiction: New York City

Status: Laid Over in Committee Sanitation and Solid Waste Management

This bill would add enforcement of environmental, safety and health standards to the powers and duties of BIC. It would also add violation of law relating to the safety of the public to the reasons a trade waste license could be suspended.


New York City Council Int 1083: Fines for unreported employees

Jurisdiction: New York City

Status: Laid Over in Committee Sanitation and Solid Waste Management

This bill would require BIC to fine companies that have unreported employees between $5,000 - $10,000 for each individual working for the company who is not reported.