DEC Recommends Actions For Recycling

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has directed the state Department of Environmental Conservation to identify new actions to improve recycling in New York in response to changes in global recycling markets.

“Our recycling programs are putting thousands of New Yorkers to work in the state’s green economy, while cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change and protecting our environment,” Cuomo said. “For 30 years, New Yorkers have proven the power of conservation, and these actions will jumpstart even more efforts to support and expand municipal recycling programs across this great state.”

Recycling markets are currently experiencing unprecedented volatility due in part to tightening import restrictions in Asia. As a result, some U.S. recycling operations are struggling to find suitable markets for material, impacting local solid waste recycling efforts. DEC is working with key stakeholders and municipalities to strategize how New York can bolster new markets and help municipalities address these challenges and build capacity in the state and northeast region.

Through Beyond Waste, the State Solid Waste Management Plan, New York established a goal of reducing waste disposal rather than set specific quantitative recycling requirements. In turn, local solid waste planning units establish their own goals in consultation with DEC for waste reduction and recycling as part of local solid waste management plans.

“DEC is working with recycling industry stakeholders, municipalities, academic institutions, and others to develop short- and long-term actions to sustain recycling markets in New York, improve the quality of recyclable materials, and increase flexibility for recycling facilities. To support recycling here at home, New Yorkers can do their part to reduce contamination in our recycling supply chain by following our tips to recycle right,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “DEC encourages all communities to continue recycling and to contact us if they are experiencing difficulties adapting to changes in global recycling markets.”

The DEC will be holding a series of stakeholder meetings with representatives from industry, local government, state and federal agencies, and the public across the state to develop innovative and sustainable solutions for recycling in New York and identify open markets to utilize recyclables. The inaugural meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 29, at the DEC headquarters in Albany. The DEC is scheduling additional meetings. The DEC will continue to work with partners to help support new and existing businesses in New York that can capitalize on the high supply of low cost recyclable materials that can serve as raw materials supply for future manufacturing that has been historically moving to other countries.


The state’s General Municipal Law requires communities to develop and implement source separation laws for recyclables that have viable markets. To decrease the amount of non-recyclable material in recyclables processed through single-stream facilities and therefore increase the marketability of the resultant recyclables, DEC officials suggest area residents make sure to follow their community’s recycling rules. Recyclables have the best marketing value when they are clean and dry before being placed in the collection bin.

The following items should not be placed in recycling bins:

¯ Materials not specifically included in local recycling programs.

¯ Plastic bags. Keep recyclables loose in the bin and return clean empty plastic bags and film plastic to retail recycling locations.

¯ Single-use cups and plates, condiment packages, coffee pods, stirrers, straws and paper napkins.

¯ Rechargeable batteries should be returned to retail recycling locations.

¯ Yard trimmings and food scraps can be composted at home or through local municipal programs.

¯ Dishware, mirrors, glassware and ceramics can be donated if in good condition.

¯ Textiles can be donated if in good condition.

¯ Any type of rope, hose or twine.

DEC urges residents to “when in doubt, keep it out,” because contamination in the recycling supply chain reduces the quality of recyclable materials.