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: