A Call to Action: Proposed State-Wide Food Scrap Recycling Legislation Needs a Tweek

Calling all waste reduction and compost enthusiasts!

We have an identical bill (A3672 and S2995) in the New York State Assembly and Senate that would make food donations and food scrap recycling mandatory for large producers of edible food and food scraps (2 or more tons a week). Conceptually, this is an excellent way to further state-wide greenhouse gas reduction and increase waste reduction/diversion.

However, one extremely important aspect of this bill needs changing.

As currently proposed, any large generator located greater than 15 miles from an organics recycling facility (e.g. compost facility or anaerobic digestion facility) will be exempt from these laws. This carve-out renders the proposed legislation functionally useless. In order to make this legislation sensible, practical, and effective, the exemption distance from a organics recycling facility or donation program needs to be increased from 15 miles to 60 miles.

The expectation that any location will be situated within 15 miles of an organics processing facility is an unrealistic expectation for the majority New York State—especially a county as densely populated as Westchester. A compost facility in Westchester is opening in the Town of Cortland, only a few miles away from the Wheelabrator incineration facility. That would mean that the more populated, southern half of Westchester is greater than 20 miles from the closest organics processing facility. If we are willing to send commercial and municipal waste distances greater than 15 miles to be burnt in Peekskill, why shouldn’t we we send organic materials an equal distance to be processed in a responsible and sustainably manner in the Town of Cortlandt?

Additionally, increasing the exemption distance helps spur the development of regional organics recycling facilities that are necessary to meet the demands of increased food scrap recycling in both densely populated suburban and urban communities as well as more rural ones. Looking at other States that have passed similar legislation you will find that a 15 mile radius is ineffective at achieving the stated goals of this legislation. Connecticut enacted a similar law in 2011 with a distance requirement of only 20 miles. The result has been slower adoption of food scrap recycling programs and insufficient investment in the organics processing facilities.

Take action now! Write, email or call your NY State Senate AND Assembly Representative and tell them an increased exemption radius of 60 miles is necessary to support food scrap recycling programs and organic waste processing facilities in Westchester County and New York State.

Find your representatives by following these links:

What's the hold up?

Part of SMM Inc.’s commitment to sustainability involves development practices that comply with local codes and conservation best practices.

As part of our facility construction we have to square off a corner of the property by removing trees. Naturally these trees will be composted at our facility. Read the arborist’s report for more details. The summary of his report is that the trees present are recent growth trees from a previous clearing; there are no significant or specimen trees to be concerned about; the trees present are non-native or invasive; and the area is covered with “extensive invasive vines and shrubs”.

Though these trees are not significant species they are still potential homes to birds and tree dwelling mammals. Clear cutting and trimming trees between the months of March and November puts nesting/migrating birds and other tree dwelling animals at risk for loosing their habitats and offspring. By waiting until November we reduce our impact on the inhabitants of this land.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Second Annual Food Justice Conference: HUNGER

Manhattanville FoodJustice_Poster_02_M01_NoCrops-663x1024.jpg

Manhattanville's MFA in Creative Writing presents the Second Annual Food Justice Conference: HUNGER. 

Join us for a day of discussion and storytelling to raise awareness and inspire action about hunger and sustainable food production in our region. Events include panel discussions and a locally sourced dinner followed by open mic storytelling.

Sustainable Materials Management, Inc. will be participating in the panel discussion "Fighting Food Waste in Westchester: Strategies for Home, School, the Workplace & Beyond".

Following the panels there will be a locally sourced dinner and discussion with Otis Gray, producer of the podcast “Hungry.” Gray's podcast explores what we eat, where it comes from, and the cooks who make it—and tells stories we don’t normally get to hear about feeding our world.

Panel discussions and storytelling free and open to the public. Dinner requires a $25 registration.

Event Info: Saturday, September 29, 2 pm - 10 pm at the Manhattanville College Berman Center.

See you there! 

SMM Inc. Site Plans Approved by Cortlandt Planning Board

Good news everyone!

We could not be happier to announce that, on August 28th, the Town of Cortlandt Planning Board approved the site plans for the Sustainable Materials Management, Inc. food waste compost facility. Construction and site work will begin immediately. Be sure to stay tuned for our projected opening.

We would like to thank everyone who participated in the Public Hearings. Thank you to those who came out to support our mission, and thank you to those who came out to ask questions and voice concerns. This kind of civic engagement is the foundation of a strong community and our democracy.

The history of environmental and public health issues surrounding industry and waste management in the Hudson Valley is very real, and has rightfully created a population of concerned and engaged citizens. Sustainable Materials Management Inc.'s commitment to environmental health and safety is unwavering and is at the basis of our core mission. We can only hope that our facility will pave the way for the expansion of responsible and sustainable materials management in this region.



SMM Inc. at FCWC's Thirsty Thursday Pub Talks


FCWC Thirsty thursday Pub talks

August 23, 5 - 8 pm

Broken Bow BrewerY

173 marbledale Rd, Tuckahoe, NY

Federated Conservationists of Westchester County is hosting their very first "Thirsty Thursday Pub Talk" and has invited SMM to give an informal presentation. This event is open to the general public. RSVP on the Facebook event page.

It will be a great opportunity to learn and network with other environmental advocates, organizers, and municipal representatives. 

Learn more about FCWC by visiting their website: https://www.fcwc.org/

Since its inception in 1965, FCWC has brought together concerned citizens, numerous community organizations, educators, and diverse professionals committed to preserving and rehabilitating the natural resources of Westchester County.
— fcwc.org

So what's next...?

First and foremost, we would like to give a special thanks to all of you who wrote emails or showed up to support Sustainable Material Management at the July Planning Board meeting. We thought the meeting was constructive and successful.

On July 10th, the planning board voted to keep the public comment period open until the next meeting on August 28th. They also voted to have a draft resolution prepared for next meeting. What does this all mean? The planning board would not ask to have a resolution drafted if they did not intend to vote at the next meeting. 

Follow up conversations with the Town confirmed that the County believes this is within Cortlandt's jurisdiction and does not have require any their involvement.

We see this as very promising, but we are not in the clear until the resolution approving our site plans gets passed. August 28th cannot come soon enough!

Residents and Sustainability Groups Voice Support for the SMM Compost Facility at Cortlandt Public Hearing

On July 10th, the Town of Cortlandt Planning Board took public comments regarding the proposed site plans for the Sustainable Materials Management, Inc. Compost Facility.

Many residents, sustainability organizers, and compost advocates showed up to voice their support for the compost facility and urged members of Planning Board to pass a resolution approving the site plans.

The Planning Board members reaffirmed their support for the sustainable ideology behind composting, while also reminding the room that it is their job to thoroughly evaluate the implications of this facility. They specifically voiced concerns about traffic, and residents leaving food scraps outside the designated drop-off area.

The Planning Board voted to extend the public hearing and have a draft resolution prepared for the next Planning Board meeting on August 28th. 

Click here for the News 12 Westchester Video.

Sustainable Materials Management Is Here!

We are proud to announce the formation of Westchester's first commercial NYSDEC Registered Food Waste Composting Facility. Sustainable Materials Management will being turning locally generated food waste and tree debris into high-quality compost.

SMM received a Registration from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation granting us the State-level approval to operate a food waste compost facility.