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Legislation Impacting Business in NY State- Spring 2018


NY State Drug Take Back Program Bill (Senate: 7354 Hannon, Assembly: 9576 Gunther)

While NYS has invested millions of dollars in expanding safe disposal of pharmaceuticals, many New Yorkers still do not have convenient access and end up throwing their drugs and medicines in the trash bin or flushing them down the toilet where they do not belong.  New York State may pass legislation during the 2018 session that would provide a sustainable funding mechanism for a robust, statewide pharmaceutical disposal program.

The proposed bill requires drug manufacturers to develop a statewide drug take back program, which must be approved by the NY State Department of Health. Drug manufacturers must cover the full administrative and operational cost of the program, with collection of pharmaceuticals being free to the consumer. It requires chain pharmacies (defined as 10 or more) and mail order pharmacies to provide drug collection by providing consumers with on-site collection receptacles, prepaid mail-back envelopes, or other Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) approved methods (paid for by drug manufacturers). It also allows other entities—such as pharmacies with fewer than 10 stores and police departments—to opt into the program and for drug manufacturers to cover the costs for these voluntary adopters. Lastly, it mandates public education and outreach on safe drug disposal.

Implications for businesses: If you are a pharmacy or other medical business that sells pharmaceuticals, keep an eye on this bill. You may soon be required to provide receptacles for drug takeback in your stores, free of charge to customers.

New York State Bag Reduction Bill (Senate: 7760, Assembly: A9953)

State Senators Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman announced the introduction of a NY Bag Reduction bill. The legislation (S7760), which aligns with recommendations made by the Governor's Plastic Bag Task Force, would ban thin plastic carryout bags and place a ten-cent fee on all other carryout bags, to encourage the use of reusable alternatives. Revenue raised by the fee would go to the State Environmental Protection Fund. The bill is sponsored in the Assembly by Assembly Member Steve Englebright. S7760 would ban the provision of plastic carryout bags, while placing a minimum 10-cent fee on paper carryout bags and reusable bags. This is the fee level in place in California, and accords with recommendations made by the Plastic Bag Task Force report.

Implications for businesses:

This bill does not ban thin plastic bags in restaurants, food delivery, food stands, prescription bags in pharmacies, or in-store bags. Under this bill, stores will keep 20% of the revenue from the 10 cent fee on other carryout bags, in order to offset costs. The State gets 80% of the revenue from the 10 cent fee, which goes to Environmental Protection Fund, to be used for pollution reduction, clean-up, public education, and reusable bag distribution, with priority given to low- and fixed-income communities. 

To comply, businesses have three main options: hiring a BIC-approved private carter offering organic waste collection, self-transporting collected food scraps and organic waste to an approved facility, or processing the food waste directly on-site through composting or anaerobic digestion. There are a range of existing resources that can help restaurants, grocery retailers, food service, hospitality, and other food businesses get started. 

Check out NYC Business Integrity Commission’s approved list of commercial organic waste haulers here.
Take a look at ReFED’s Action Guides and World Wildlife Fund’s Hotel Toolkit – for solutions and ideas on how to prevent, donate, reuse, and recycle wasted food
Sign up for EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge and benefit from all of the resources they provide plus some recognition for your good work!

Additionally, any excess fresh ingredients, packaged and shelf-stable foods, or surplus prepared foods can be donated to several food banks and food rescue organizations across the city. Restaurants and food businesses can legally donate food to non-profit organizations and are protected from liability under the 1996 Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. Donate surplus, edible food and ingredients to local organizations, such as City Harvest, Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, Food Bank For New York, or Rock and Wrap it Up!

Enforcement of the rules will begin in 2019 giving affected businesses one year to plan for the expanded rules.

NYC is Expanding its Commercial Organics Rules to Impact more Businesses: Here's What you need to know

Across NYC, many corporations, food retailers, and other types of business are putting their food scraps and organic materials to good use by diverting them from landfill and incineration. Food scraps and other organic materials including soft and wet paper are rich in carbon and nitrogen and when sent to landfill give off higher levels of methane than many other materials, making them an important material to divert. Some businesses are separating organics voluntarily, others are already required to do this by law under the first phase of the NYC Commercial Organics waste laws passed in 2013, including:

  • Food service in Hotels with 150 sleeping rooms or more
  • Arenas and Stadiums with 15,000 or more seats
  • Food manufacturers with spaces of 25,000 sq. ft. or more
  • Food wholesalers with spaces of 20,000 sq. ft. or more

The second phase of the commercial organic waste program is coming this year with the City updating the rules to cover an additional set of food retail, restaurant, and grocery businesses. Beginning in 2018, the expanded rules will cover the following businesses known as “designated covered establishments”:

  • Restaurants with a floor area of at least 15,000 square feet
  • Chain restaurants with 100 or more locations in the City that operate under common ownership or control, are individually franchised outlets of a parent business, or do business under the same corporate name
  • Food retailers having a floor area space of at least 25,000 square feet

Businesses will be required to separate and send their food waste for beneficial uses (i.e., composting, animal feed, meat by-products to a rendering company, anaerobic digestion, or food donation) or to process it on-site using in-vessel composting or aerobic or anaerobic digestion systems. Designated covered establishments may no longer send organic materials (food waste and other organics) to landfills or incinerators where it becomes a wasted resource.

If you’re a food retailer or restaurant required to divert food and organic waste under these new rules, there are some simple steps you can follow to implement food waste diversion when the rules go into effect later this year.

Image Source: NYC Department of Sanitation