New Regulations Would Help Prevent Landfilling Food Scraps that Contribute to Climate Change and Connect More Hungry New Yorkers with Edible Food
Virtual Public Hearings on April 7; Public Comments Accepted until April 27
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced proposed regulations to implement a new statewide waste reduction initiative that supports food donation to help hungry New Yorkers and food recycling to help prevent the landfilling of food scraps. The proposed regulations would require composting and the donation of edible food by large food scrap generators to promote an effective reuse of materials otherwise headed for landfills. DEC will hold two virtual public hearings on the draft regulations on April 7, and is accepting public comments on the proposal until April 27.
"Reducing food waste has significant environmental benefits, including creating useful compost and decreasing the amount of materials that would otherwise be sent to a landfill, eventually creating methane gas that contributes to climate change," Commissioner Seggos said. "Perhaps even more critical now, when so many New York families are struggling with food insecurity during the pandemic, these proposed regulations support initiatives to connect hungry people with edible food and support organizations like Feeding New York State that are working to reduce hunger in our communities."
The draft regulations would implement the Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Act, which goes into effect in January 2022. The regulations implement the Act's requirements for all designated food scrap generators to donate excess edible food and send food scraps to an organics recycler if one is available with 25 miles of the generator. The increase in food donation will help New Yorkers in need and result in job creation to assist the not-for-profits that handle food donations. The act also requires generators to recycle food scraps by using organics recyclers (composting facilities, etc.) to reduce the amount of food scraps that would otherwise end up in landfills and ultimately produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Composting facilities and other organics recyclers produce beneficial organics soil conditioners that are needed to improve the quality of poor soils and reduce erosion.
DEC's draft regulations define a food scrap generator as an entity that generates an annual average of two tons of food scraps or more per week at a single location. These entities include, but are not limited to, supermarkets, food service businesses such as restaurants, higher education institutions, hotels, food processors, correctional facilities, and sports or entertainment venues. The proposal exempts New York City, hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, and elementary and secondary schools.
The draft regulations also detail requirements to donate excess food and recycle food scraps if an organics facility is available, as well as annual reporting. In addition, the proposal includes a temporary waiver provision for generators that demonstrate a need to be excluded from certain requirements, such as a lack of food scraps transporters nearby. The proposal also outlines requirements that apply to transporters, transfer facilities, landfills, and combustion facilities to ensure that once the food scraps are separated by the generator they are ultimately recycled and not disposed.
Full text of the express terms, hearing information, and related information pertaining to the proposed rulemaking is available on DEC's website.
DEC will hold virtual public hearings on the proposed Part 350 regulations on Wednesday, April 7, at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. via WebEx. The public is invited to submit written comments on the proposed regulations from Jan. 27, through April 27, 2021. Written comments can be submitted by email to FoodScrapsLaw or by mail to: ORRS-Part 350, NYSDEC, Division of Materials Management, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-7253. Please include "Comments on Proposed Part 350" in the subject line of the email.
New York State has taken decisive action to combat food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the launch of the Nourish New York program statewide and a pilot partnership with HelloFresh to provide fresh meals to veterans, military families, and other residents in New York City, among other initiatives. In July, Governor Cuomo announced $1.5 million in funding for Feeding New York State to support its network of 10 regional food banks, as well as local farms to help provide milk and produce to food insecure New Yorkers in response to the increased need for food bank services due to the economic and public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant built upon more than $4.3 million announced by the Governor earlier last year for projects across the state that will help prevent hunger and reduce the disposal of food waste though food donation and recycling.