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