We continue to see federal, state, and local activity related to waste reduction and diversion. We provide the below as a recap of the major legislation (passed and pending) that is of interest, primarily in NYC and NY State but also around the country. We are focusing on Single Use Disposables and Food Waste Legislation.
Please note: This is not a comprehensive review but provides an overview of waste policy trends.
Inflation Reduction Act
President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act on 8/16/2022. This is an unprecedented investment for the future of our planet. The law’s nearly $370 billion in climate provisions will enable the United States to cut greenhouse gas emissions up to 40% from 2005 levels by 2030. It will help households and businesses install new clean electricity, like wind and solar. The sweeping bill allocates more than $300 billion to be invested in energy and climate reform. It's the largest federal clean energy investment in U.S. history.
Single Use Plastics Ban
Single-Use Plastics have become a huge problem in the United States and around the world. Single-use plastic, or disposable plastic, is any plastic item that is used once, and then thrown in the trash. Below are some examples of single-use plastic items that are causing damage to our communities and environment: Plastic bread bag tags, Plastic bottles, Styrofoam takeaway containers, Straws, Plastic packaging materials, Plastic cutlery, Plastic shopping bags. Since these items were designed to be used once they are not commonly reused and instead are contributing to filling up landfills and air pollution released from incinerators.
State-Wide Plastics Bans – highlighting NY, Colorado and California
New York State passed a Polystyrene Foam Ban. Effective January 1, 2022. No covered food service provider or store (retail or wholesale) will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute disposable food service containers that contain expanded polystyrene foam in New York. In addition, no manufacturer or store will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute polystyrene loose fill packaging (commonly referred to as packing peanuts) in the state.
Colorado passed a plastic ban on June 22nd 2021. Effective January 1, 2024, the ban prohibits all large retail establishments from distributing both single use plastic bags and expanded polystyrene products for use by customers.
Still to be passed: The California Senate passed SB1046, which provides California with the opportunity to take the next step of removing single-use plastic produce bags from their waste stream. SB 1046 would prohibit the distribution of plastic pre-checkout produce bags unless they are reusable, recyclable or compostable. The bill was passed in the senate but still needs to be passed in the assembly before it can be signed into law.
City and County Wide Plastics Bans – highlighting NYC and Marin County New York City passed a plastic straws and stirrers ban on November of 2021, but enforcement will begin November 2022. New York City food service establishments may no longer provide single-use plastic beverage straws, except upon request. Additionally, food service establishments may no longer provide single-use beverage splash sticks or stirrers made of plastic. Establishments do need to post signage indicating that straws are available upon request. Marin County (California) voted yes on proposed Reusable Foodware ordinance on April 19th. Once enforcement begins on November 10, 2023 the policy requires:
Restaurants to serve dine-in customers with reusable food ware (reusable plates, cups and utensils);
Accessories for take-out and delivery (utensils, straws, lids, condiment packets, etc.) will be available only upon customer request;
All disposable food ware to be compostable in Marin Co. or made from recyclable aluminum
Food businesses charge customers $0.25 for disposable cups, which (like bag fees) helps consumers remember to bring their own cups or borrow a returnable cup from the business.
International The Executive Council of Dubai has approved a policy to impose a tariff of 25 fils on single-use bags for carrying goods starting July 1, 2022. The tariff will be implemented in all stores across Dubai including retail, textile and electronic stores, as well as restaurants, pharmacies, and will be applicable on online and e-commerce deliveries too. Subsequently, the policy will be evaluated over several stages until single-use carry bags are completely banned over a span of two years.
America wastes roughly 40 percent of its food that is produced. Of the estimated 125 to 160 billion pounds of food that goes to waste every year, much of it is perfectly edible and nutritious. Food is lost or wasted for a variety of reasons: bad weather, processing problems, overproduction and unstable markets cause food loss long before it arrives in a grocery store, while overbuying, poor planning and confusion over labels and safety contribute to food waste at stores and in homes. Food waste also has a staggering price tag, costing this country approximately $218 billion per year. Uneaten food also puts unneeded strain on the environment by wasting valuable resources like water and farmland. – foodprint.org
New York State passed legislation requiring the donation of excess food and recycling of food scraps effective January 1, 2022. All places that generate 4,000+ lb of excess food per week (such as supermarkets, colleges, and hospitals, with exceptions for hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, and primary schools) must donate edible items to hunger-relief organizations and recycle (compost or anaerobically digest) the rest. The food recycling provision only applies if the location is within 25 miles of a compost or anaerobic digestion facility. This law excludes NYC which has its own local organics law, which encompasses more establishments.
New York City Commercial Organics Rules: DSNY expanded the criteria for establishments who need to comply with the organics rules on July 31, 2020. Enforcement for the “new criteria” will begin July 2022.
As a reminder, the expanded criteria for who has to separate out organics for composting / beneficial use is as follows:
Food Service Establishments (FSE’s) having 7,000-14,999 square feet
Chain FSE’s of 2-99 locations with combined floor area of 8,000 square feet or more
FSE’s with combined floor area 8,000 square feet or more in the same building or location
Food prep locations having 6,000 square feet or more
Retail food stores having 10,000 to 24,999 Square feet
CALIFORNIA California recently passed SB 1383, which has two phases of action. The first, which takes effect January 1, 2022, requires food producers, including wholesalers, supermarkets, distributors, and food service providers, to donate all excess wholesome grocery products to non-profit organizations. The focus of the initial phase targets rescuing fresh food, produce, and shelf-stable items. The second phase focuses on larger caterers and producers who have existing prepared meals which require more infrastructure or special handling.
Extended Producer Responsibility, or EPR is a policy approach under which producers are given a significant responsibility either, financial and/or physical for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products. Assigning such responsibility will provide incentives to prevent waste at the source, promote product design for the environment and support public recycling and materials management goals.
A bill to establish Carpet EPR in NYS (S 5027C) passed both the Senate and Assembly in May and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Hochul. If enacted, New York’s law will be the first in the country to include artificial turf. The bill also includes mandatory goals for recycling and post-consumer content in new carpet, convenient collection statewide, producer funding for consumer education and awareness, and the phase-out of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) chemicals from new carpet production, which have been linked to developmental and reproductive disorders and cancer.
On May 1, 2022, the PaintCare program launched in New York, providing convenient collection and recycling of latex and oil-based paint at hundreds of sites. Implementation of the program, which became law in 2019 after years of steadfast advocacy from NYPSC, PSI, the American Coatings Association (ACA), and others, makes NY the 11th jurisdiction in the U.S. to join the PaintCare program. Under the new program, households, schools, and businesses can recycle leftover paint, stain, and varnish conveniently and sustainably. PaintCare plans to expand to over 300 drop-off sites across New York State in the coming months through partnerships with paint retail stores and local government facilities.
California passed an ambitious EPR bill in June 2022. SB54 requires all packaging in the state to be recyclable or compostable by 2032. This will cut plastic packaging by 25 percent in 10 years and require 65 percent of all single-use plastic packaging to be recycled in the same timeframe.
House Bill 22-1355 called the Colorado EPR bill was signed into law by Governor Polis and establishes extended producer responsibility (EPR) for printed paper and packaging materials. This EPR law mandates that companies selling consumer-facing packaging and some printed paper join a producer responsibility organization (PRO) or submit an individual plan, with exceptions for smaller business and highly regulated packaging, such as medicines. The PRO would then, through dues, fund and manage a statewide recycling system.
On March 24, 2022, Oregon became the fourth U.S. state to enact a law establishing a statewide mattress recycling program. The law requires mattress manufacturers to set up and operate a recycling program, overseen by the state, that makes it easy for consumers to recycle their unwanted mattresses. Such programs already exist in California, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, and together have collected more than 10 million mattresses, diverting 380 million pounds of steel, foam, fiber, and wood from landfills.
Connecticut passed the first-ever EPR law for gas cylinders this year. Even though refillable versions are available, many gas cylinders – such as those found in camping stoves and barbecues – end up as trash. The smallest amount of residual propane can cause explosions and fires, which is why these cylinders are typically rejected by recyclers despite being made of valuable materials. The law requires gas cylinder producers to ensure every community in CT has free, convenient access to safe gas cylinder recovery by January 1, 2024.
SB 1037, an expanded bottle bill, was signed in 2021. Connecticut will accept more types of containers in its bottle return system starting in January 2023 and double its refund value from 5 to 10 cents starting January 2024. It would increase the handling fee to help cover overhead costs at redemption centers and introduce a 5-cent surcharge for single-serving “nips” to help municipalities fund projects to curb litter from the small alcohol bottles.
NYC Waste Legislation
Commercial Waste Zones – moving towards implementation!
New York City’s Department of Sanitation (DSNY) released the final part of a request for proposals, kicking off a timeline to finalize contracts for 20 non-exclusive commercial waste zones and citywide container service. Customer transitions in certain zones could begin by the end of 2022, with final implementation likely by 2024. DSNY has qualified 50 bidders to submit final proposals, based on an initial RFP round in 2021. Waste Management, Waste Connections, Action Environmental Services (an IWS subsidiary), Winters Bros. Waste Systems and a range of other local players will be vying for 10-year contracts that could potentially be extended until 2042.
The CWZ program will divide the city into 20 zones, each served by up to three carters selected through a competitive process. Five citywide contracts will also be awarded for the collection of containerized waste and compactors. This approach will reduce truck traffic associated with commercial waste collection by 50 percent, eliminating millions of heavy-duty truck miles from NYC streets every year, while strengthening service standards and allowing for customer choice. In addition, commercial waste zones will create a new regulatory framework that allows the City to achieve several additional program goals:
Zero Waste: Reduce commercial waste disposal and incentivize recycling
Environmental Health: Reduce truck traffic throughout the city to reduce air pollution and improve quality of life
Pricing: Provide fair, transparent pricing with low prices for businesses
Customer Service: Strengthen customer service standards and establish accountability
Health and Safety: Improve training and safety standards to make the industry safer for workers and the public
Labor and Worker Rights: Improve industry labor standards and uphold worker rights
Infrastructure and Waste Management: Prioritize investments in clean, modern fleets and facilities that make up a reliable, resilient, and sustainable waste management system
Robust, Competitive Industry: Create a system that works for carters of all sizes and prevents over-reliance on any single company
Waste Containerization -- piloting in a few areas
One of the busiest places in New York City is Times Square, because of this it has more trash on the curb than anywhere else in the city. Times Square is making the switch from trash on the curb which leads to pests to trash enclosures. The Times Square Alliance has installed one such bin in the street at the northwest corner of 43rd and Eighth Avenue (another large enclosure will be in a more conventional location, the sidewalk at Seventh Avenue and 41st Street).
The Times Square enclosures are the inaugural project of Clean Curbs, a two-year-old collaboration between the Departments of Sanitation and Transportation. The program, which was slow to get off the ground because of the pandemic, has both commercial and residential components. The commercial component has several potential projects in the pipeline. The residential component will use the curb of one Manhattan block with enclosures used by several apartment buildings.