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New York commits to waste plan

By Rachel England - 21 Dec 2010 15:38:0 GMT
New York commits to waste plan

For the first time in over a generation, the city of New York has finalised a solid waste management plan. The plan, entitled 'Beyond Waste: A Sustainable Materials Management Strategy for New York', sets a 20 year goal of reducing waste from 4.1 to 0.6 pounds of waste per person per day.

The plan shifts the focus away from reducing 'end of pipe waste' to reducing waste from its start, by providing a framework which will help individuals, businesses and municipalities increase the use of recycled or reused materials, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create green jobs.

The implementation of this plan holds a great significance, as despite the city's last solid waste management plan – issued in 1987 – New York still generates the same amount of waste today (more than 14 million tonnes a year) as it did in 1990. Only 20 per cent of municipal solid waste is being recycled.

Recommendations in the plan include: incentivising recycling for consumers and businesses; more weighting given to the recycling of organic materials (particularly food waste); a stronger emphasis on producer responsibility (so that communities may shoulder less of the materials management burden); and generally, an overarching focus on waste prevention from the outset.

State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Acting Commissioner, Peter Iwanowicz, commented on the progressive plan, touching on the issue of waste electronic and electricals (WEEE) to illustrate the city's new thinking: "Governor Paterson's Electronic Waste Reuse and Recycling Act, enacted earlier this year, is a perfect example of how New York is at the forefront of this new shift in waste management. The 'e-waste' law requires manufacturers to take back their products for reuse or recycling, giving them an incentive to design electronics to maximize materials recovery. Over the long run, this will not only reduce costs but also help the environment."

The plan will help to guide communities around the state and will also be used by DEC and other state agencies in policy-making.