Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Composting
At home, work and school, New Yorkers generate a lot of trash - and it's a mixed bag. We are making too much trash - over 4.5 pounds per person per day in NYS! We need to get out of the habit of throwing trash into one receptacle with cans, bottles, paper, garbage, banana peels, etc., all mixed together. Many of the items we are throwing away can be reused, recycled or composted, such as paper, glass, aluminum, metals as well as potato and carrot peels.
New York has approximately 30 landfills accepting approximately 6 million tons per year waste from across the entire state. We also send 2.5 million tons to waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities and export 6.1 million tons to neighboring states, in 2008.
What Should We Really Do With Our Waste? For starters...Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Compost as much as possible.
It is just a matter of learning new habits. Reduction, reuse, recycling and composting our waste will benefit all of us, our communities and our environment. Besides, it is the law!
Fortunately, there are many product stewardship and extended producer responsibility programs available in NYS for consumers to manage their end-of-life products and packaging in an environmentally responsible manner.
Solid Waste Management Act of 1988
In the Solid Waste Management Act of 1988, the New York State Legislature established our State Solid Waste Management Policy. The following are the solid waste management priorities in New York State:
- first, to reduce the amount of solid waste generated;
- second, to reuse material for the purpose for which it was originally intended or to recycle material that cannot be reused;
- third, to recover, in an environmentally acceptable manner, energy from solid waste that can not be economically and technically reused or recycled; and fourth, to dispose of solid waste that is not being reused, recycled or from which energy is not being recovered, by land burial or other methods approved by the department (from New York State Environmental Conservation Law 27-0106(1)).
Waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting have great benefits including:
- energy savings;
- pollution reduction;
- reducing the ultimate volume of waste requiring disposal in landfills and WTE facilities;
- fostering an environmental ethic among citizens;
- increased carbon sequestration; and
- conservation of natural resources.