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NY State & City Policy Briefing on Waste Reduction and Diversion

The following is an update on the most recent New York State and New York City regulations and pending legislation concerning waste diversion and reduction. Pending legislation is subject to change, or may not pass at all, therefore 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:

  • S7354: Drug Take Back Act

  • Expansion of Organic Waste Source Separation Requirements (Commercial)

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

  • Business Recycling Rules

The proposed rules or regulations include:

  • S7760, Title 28: Carryout Bag Waste Reduction

  • Int. No. 0936: Prohibiting Single-Use Plastic Beverage Straws and Beverage Stirrers

  • Waste Zoning Plan


Jurisdiction: New York State

S7354: Drug Take Back Act

Status: Law

Effective Date: January 6, 2019

This ruling impacts drug manufacturers, drug wholesalers and pharmacies.

This statewide bill, signed on July 10th, 2018, requires all drug manufacturers—including prescription, non-prescription, and veterinary—to establish a take-back program. This can be done in one of three ways:

  1. Individually or jointly with another manufacturer,

  2. With a drug take-back organization, or

  3. With the Department of Health itself.

All manufacturers must submit to the department a drug take-back program proposal that certifies the program will accept all drugs regardless of who produced them, describes collection methods, explains how drugs will be safely and securely tracked and handled, outlines disposal and destruction at hazardous waste facilities. All financial aspects of the program are to be paid for by the manufacturer. Wholesalers that sell these drugs must also provide a list of the manufacturers to the Department of Health, and all pharmacies will be required to offer collection services.

Jurisdiction: New York City

Expansion of Organic Waste Source Separation Requirements (Commercial)

Status: Published Rule

Effective Date: August 15, 2018

This citywide rule expansion requires more businesses to comply with the Department of Sanitation’s organics diversion mandate. The mandate now applies to restaurants or establishments larger than 15,000 square feet, chain establishments with more than 100 locations in the city, and retail stores with 3 or more locations and a combined area of 25,000 square feet. Please note that we are identifying the establishments that will be covered with the expansion of the rule in August 2018. See this link for who has been required to comply with the organics diversion mandate as of July 2016.

Affected businesses can comply in one of four ways:

  1. Hire a private hauler for compost,

  2. Transport its own organics to a composting facility,

  3. Provide on-site composting, or

  4. If applicable--donate food to third parties or livestock farmers.

Organic waste removal services will be required to provide a sign or decal with the service’s name to their clients, which must be posted on a window or other place that is visible to others by the owner of the business. Businesses who transport their own organic waste must also post a sign or decal indicating that they have registered with the Business Integrity Commission and must submit quarterly reports on the total volume and type of organic waste. Organic waste collection containers provided by a hauling service must have proper labeling and will be reported if such labeling is not present. Enforcement will begin in February 2019.

Read the final rules here.

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

Status: Law

Effective Date: January 1, 2019

This law, first introduced in 2013 but stalled until recently, 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.

Read the official rules here.

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

Business Recycling Rules

Status: Rule since August 1, 2016

To fully comply with New York City rule, a business or building manager must contract with a licensed private carter and develop a plan for collection and hauling that meets the requirements of source-separated collection, co-collection, or single stream collection. Businesses must post a sign visible from the outside of the building indicating which carters they use and what material they collect. Property owners and managers must notify tenants annually about the recycling and waste policies of the building and the notification must be available upon request by DSNY. Businesses must also label all containers stating what material type the container is being used to collect and post signs in maintenance areas, waste disposal areas, and public and staff areas describing how recyclables and garbage should be separated. It is illegal to mix recyclables with garbage in the same container or truck. Noncompliance will result in fines issued by DSNY.

Read the full notice here.


Jurisdiction: New York State

S7760, Title 28: Carryout Bag Waste Reduction

Status: In committee

If passed, this bill will require all stores to charge a $0.10 fee for each disposable or reusable bag provided by the store to customers. This includes all bags made of plastic, paper, cloth, and durable plastic, but does not include bags intended to directly contain food, such as sandwich and produce bags, and bags for prescription drugs. Retailers will not be allowed to distribute single-use plastic bags (other than those aforementioned), and all paper bags must contain at least 40% post-consumer recycled content. Retailers may choose to increase the charge up to but no more than $0.25 per bag. Under this bill the store retains 20% of the fee while the remaining 80% goes to the Environmental Protection Fund. Customers enrolled in the NYS Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) or the NYS Special Supplemental Nutrition Program are exempt from the fee. Violation of the law will result in a $250 fine for the first offense and $500 for all subsequent offenses in the same year.

Read the proposed bill here.

Jurisdiction: New York City

Int. No. 0936: Prohibiting Single-Use Plastic Beverage Straws and Beverage Stirrers

Status: In committee, no vote has been taken

If passed, this bill will 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.

Read more here by downloading Int. No. 936

Commercial Waste Zoning Plan

Status: Proposed rule

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. The current plan would divide the 5 boroughs into 20 zones of roughly equal business customers and allow 3 to 5 carters per zone. Out of the total 68 slots, haulers will be allowed to bid for up to 15. Although no official documents on the proposal have been made open to the public, official details are set to be released in August.

For more info read this article.

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