Recommended Revisions to the NYS Solid Waste Management Act of 1988

Division into categories of importance / difficulty of passage

NYC Waste Prevention Coalition    October 26, 2005



Less Controversial, But Important Provisions to Pass


1.               Distinguish, clarify and elaborate on reuse, recycling and composting as second and third priorities in state solid waste management policy (after reducing generation).  Sec. 27-0106. 1 (b) (c).


2.               Introduce export as only to be used if local management options are exhausted; require a local plan for phase-out of export; DEC establish deadline for cessation of export.  Sec 27-0106 1 (f)


3.               Make all requirements for local plans apply to plan updates and modifications as well as 10-year plans.  Sec 27-0107 (b)


4.               The Solid waste management policy should apply to local planning agencies as well as state agencies.  Sec 27-0106 (4)


5.               Local planning agencies must (not may – current language) complete a plan for each 10 year period.  Sec. 27-0107  1 (a)


6.               Local plans are required to have prevention, reuse, recycling and composting targets to be accomplished within each 10 year plan, and interim goals with sufficient number and array of milestones (commitments) for each prevention /management method each year to meet targets.  Sec. 27-0107 1. (b) ii.


7.               The localities will assign to specific parties the responsibilities for planning, implementation, and enforcement and there shall be a lead agency with ultimate responsibility for writing and implementing solid waste plans.  The state agency responsible for planning and enforcing that local plans are written to accomplish targets with sufficient milestones, and that they are implemented by the local responsible agency is NYSDEC.    Sec 27-0107  l (b) vi.


8.               NYS DEC’s plan review should include if plan includes newly required elements (detailed in harder group, below), and if locality has achieved targets.  Sec 27-0107 1 (e) i


9.               Local responsible agencies are required to change milestones to address comments on local plans by NYSDEC, and state and local solid waste advisory bodies.  Sec. 27-0107 1 (b) iii


10.            Local Plan modification will be required in event of major change in prevention, processing, transportation as well as changes in disposal capacity.  Sec 27-0107 1. x.


11.            All plans, appendices, associated reports and studies and DEC review of plans shall be immediately available on internet.  Sec 27-0107 1 (e) iv  Adapted from California Law


12.            The definition of solid waste should include household hazardous waste and products containing toxic constituents.  Sec 27-0107 1 (g)  Adapted from California Law



Important  (Harder to Pass?) Provisions



1.               Describe the elements of Zero Waste as the objective of economically and environmentally sustainable solid waste management (but not name it), and set diversion rate for 75% for 2015 and 95% for 2025.  Sec 27-0106. 2.


2.               Characterize and quantify rather than merely assess both the actual and expected future progress towards achievement of targets of plan milestones as well as of those milestones recommended by local legislative bodies / the public.  Sec 27-0107 1. (b) iv and v.


3.               The biennial plan updates must include copies of studies, reports, diversion and generation rates, reports on progress towards targets, and budgets committed to achieving targets, all for each waste management method and for each sector and political subdivision. Sec 27-0107 1. (b) ix.


4.               Require Waste Characterization studies at least every 5 years to include recyclable, compostable, durable, nondurable, packaging and toxics, for all sectors.  NYSDEC will establish regulations and guidance for this.  Sec 27-0107 1 (b) i.


5.               Plans must show where diversion rates are lowest, generation rates highest, determine why and how to rectify.  Sec 27-0107 1 (b) xi


6.               All plans must include research projects including reducing waste generation, improving reuse infrastructure, improving 3Rs and composting technology, Pay-as-you-throw, agency environmental procurement, improving education and enforcement, public space recycling as well as legislative initiatives and economic incentives to encourage commercial and institutional 3Rs and composting.  Sec 27-0107 1 (b) xii


7.               All plans must include costs and benefits (including at least the avoided costs of disposal, revenues from materials recycling and economic development, reuse, reduced health care and transportation costs) of each 3R, composting incineration, landfill and collection and export program, and the tonnage diverted to each.  Sec 27-0107 1 (b) xiii


8.               The NYS DEC shall prepare a biennial guidance report (available on internet) of best practices and technologies to maximize 3Rs and composting and administer training 22sessions for local agencies. Sec 27-0107  1 (d) Adapted from Massachusetts. 


9.               Funding for DEC for this and increased review and enforcement shall come from an earmarked fund from levies on local waste exports.  Sec 27-0107  1 (d)    Adapted from California Law


10.            Plans must be submitted on time; if not, state funding for other purposes shall be withheld and local agency penalized.  Sec 27-0107  1 (e)  Adapted from Federal practice of withholding Highway Funding.


11.            If DEC, local legislative body, or advisory board finds local plans not to adhere to requirements, plan must be corrected and resubmitted to DEC.  DEC must review plans for adherence to requirements independently of local legislative bodies.  If resubmitted plan is still deficient, state funding for other purposes shall be withheld and local agency penalized.  If plan indicates early achievement or exceedence of target, state legislature may provide additional funds as a reward.  Sec 27-0107 1. (e) ii  Adapted from Federal practice of withholding Highway Funding.


12.            If local agency makes insufficient progress towards targets or does not implement plan commitments, state funding shall be withheld and/or agency penalized.  There are extensive allowances depicted for excusing a locality from not achieving targets.  Sec 27-0107 1. (e) iii.  Adapted from California Law 


13.            Any decision to suspend a 3R or composting program or reduce its funding shall be penalized by the State. 27-0107 1. (e) iii.  


14.            Improve and clarify provisions on incineration / thermal treatment and landfilling / storage for landfill mining.  27-0106 (d) (e)



Additional Provisions about NYSDEC


The Department shall have sole authority to make decisions as designated in this Act.  Its responsibility extends to:


  1. Advice and consent on plans
  2. The timely submission of plan
  3. Unencumbered acceptance or rejection of plans or reports as regards the goals and provisions of this act
  4. Imposition of penalties appropriate beyond permit denial
  5. ability to halt activity deemed out of compliance with the principles and codicils of this act


In order to assure the effective, just, and accepted authority of the Department, it must be composed of persons with the highest levels of expertise in the areas of:


  1. environmental science,
  2. environmental technology
  3. waste prevention and reduction
  4. finance and budget
  5. environmental law
  6. planning and engineering

Small but incidental


1.               Expand definition of landfilling to include environmental protection and as temporary and a last resort.  Sec 27-0106 1. (e)


2.               Expand definition of incineration to include the term alternate technology engineered to protect the environment.  Sec. 27-0106. 1 (d)


3.               The term discards is defined.


There are even smaller incidental changes, a word here, a word there…