Just Zero Weighs in On Draft New York State Waste Plan

New York State Capitol building in downtown Albany, New York NY, USA.

Kevin Budris, Just Zero – kbudris@just-zero.org, (401) 249-6920

June 29, 2023 – Today, Just Zero filed comments with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation regarding the Draft New York State Solid Waste Management Plan. The Plan sets a goal of reducing New York’s waste by 85% by 2050, which would make New York a leader on waste prevention, reuse, and recycling. Just Zero nonetheless has some concerns about the Plan, in particular its consideration of waste as a potentially valuable resource in a “circular economy.”

“Just Zero applauds New York State for proposing an ambitious yet achievable waste plan that prioritizes waste reduction and public participation,” said Kevin Budris, Advocacy Director at Just Zero. “We are concerned, however, about the draft plan’s reliance on buzz phrases like the ‘circular economy’ and ‘sustainable materials management’ that have been coopted by the fossil fuel and waste industries. There is nothing ‘circular’ about waste, single-use products, or packaging. Waste cannot be sustainably managed, but instead, must be reduced and eliminated.”

The Draft Solid Waste Management Plan incorporates legislative recommendations, including an extended producer responsibility for packaging program and an improved food donation and food scraps recycling law. Unfortunately, the New York State Legislature ended its 2023 legislative session earlier this month without passing any significant waste reduction or diversion reforms.

“Whether New York can reach its goal of reducing waste by 85% will ultimately depend on whether the State Legislature takes action and creates bold, modern reuse, composting, recycling, and waste prevention programs,” said Budris. “The Legislature already missed opportunities to modernize New York’s bottle bill and to hold corporations accountable for their waste through the proposed Packaging Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act. Hopefully this waste plan will help convince lawmakers to make real progress on reducing waste in New York.”

Just Zero works with communities and lawmakers throughout the U.S. to implement Zero Waste programs that help achieve ambitious waste reduction goals like those in the Draft New York State Solid Waste Management Plan. For more information, please visit www.just-zero.org or reach out to Just Zero team members for further comment.


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