New York Recognizes November 15th as “New York Recycles Day”

You may not know this, but November 15th is America Recycles Day.  It’s not exactly a holiday, but it is a day where US EPA recognizes how important recycling has become, especially to our economy (681,000 jobs, $37.8 billion in annual wages, $5.5 billion in taxes based on 2012 EPA data) and in protecting the environment.  To acknowledge the importance of the recycling movement, New York’s own environmental protection agency–the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation–announced earlier this month that November 15th also would be known as “New York Recycles Day.” 

According to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos, New York is a leader in promoting recycling and reducing waste: “New York Recycles Day is a reminder for all of us to commit to the core conservation principles of reduce, re-use, and recycle and do our part to help reduce waste going to landfills.  New York continues to be a national leader in developing recycling strategies, programs, and policies focused on reducing solid waste and protecting the environment. With the help of all New Yorkers, DEC remains focused on improving the recycling process and helping communities reach the state’s recycling goals.”

There certainly is room for improvement in New York.  Although available data shows the national recycling rate has increased significantly over time from 7% (1960) to a rate of 32% (2018), currently, New York City residents currently recycle only about 17% of their total waste.  The state overall does a bit better: it has a 21% recycling rate.  Mindful of the state’s need to improve, Governor Hochul has pushed for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation, which would place the responsibility on producers for recycling or disposing of packaging waste at the end of its lifetime.  It was not included in the 2022 budget, despite the Governor’s support, but currently there is EPR legislation that is in committee.    

In the spirit of New York Recycles Day, DEC offers these “Tips to Recycle Right”:

●          Keep recyclable items loose in the bin; do not bag recyclables in plastic bags (unless required by your municipality or waste hauler);

●          Do not recycle single-use cups and plates, condiment packages, coffee pods, stirrers, straws, paper napkins; plastic cutlery (unless specifically accepted by your local recycling program or recycling hauler);

●          Return rechargeable batteries to retail recycling locations;

●          Compost at home or send yard trimmings and food scraps to a local or municipal composting program;

●          Donate dishware, mirrors, glassware and ceramics if in good condition;

●          Donate textiles –even if there no longer wearable or useable, as long as they are clean, they can be recycled;

●          Do not put any type of rope, hose, or twine into your recycling bin; and

●          Return needles to appropriate collection locations.

In the meanwhile, if the EPR legislation passes—and there is a chance that it might—we will address it here.