NY PSC Newsletter | Winter 2022

NY PSC Updates

Niagara County, New York Passes First in the Nation Local EPR Ordinance on Solar

On June 15, Niagara County became the nation’s first local government, and only the second jurisdiction in the United States, to pass a law requiring producers of solar panels sold in the county to finance and manage the collection, reuse, and recycling of those panels when they are removed from service. The new program requires solar panel manufacturers to register with and submit to the county a plan detailing how they will collect and recycle out-of-service panels to meet high environmental standards. They must provide collection at no cost to residents at convenient locations throughout the county. Manufacturers must also meet strict performance goals, including a 100% recovery rate and a combined reuse and recycling rate of 65% within the first five years of the program and 85% rate within 10 years.

“This law is especially significant in Niagara County, which has long had to contend with the negative impacts of the nuclear and chemical industries,” said Dawn Timm, director of the County’s Division of Environmental and Solid Waste who led this initiative. The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) worked with Dawn to develop the bill, basing it on best practices from around the world, including Washington State. Together with the NY PSC, Niagara County and PSI are encouraging other local jurisdictions to pass similar ordinances and the state legislature to pass solar panel EPR at the state level.

Andrew Radin Becomes PaintCare New York Program Manager; Dawn Timm Steps Up as NY PSC Chair.

The NY PSC bid Andrew Radin adieu after serving many years as Chair of the NY PSC. Andrew’s enthusiastic leadership, persistent problem solving, and personalized stakeholder engagement were vital to NY PSC’s success. Dawn Timm, who co-chaired the council last year, has stepped into the role of Chair, providing a near seamless transition. Thankfully, Andrew remains part of our New York product stewardship community, this time as the New York PaintCare Program Manager, a role he assumed in October. Andrew will lead a team of two program coordinators to implement the New York PaintCare program, which will launch in May 2022. All of us at the NY PSC wish Andrew the best in his new role!

Packaging Stewardship on the Cusp in New York State

The NY PSC drove packaging EPR bill S.1185 farther than ever before in 2021, collaborating with our multi-stakeholder coalition. The packaging EPR program will reduce waste, modernize the recycling system, reduce consumer confusion, generate green jobs, and provide immense cost savings for local governments. The NY PSC began advancing packaging EPR back in 2019 when we collaborated with PSI and key stakeholders to develop a policy model customized for New York State. In 2020 and 2021, we worked directly with Senator Todd Kaminsky and Assemblyman Steve Englebright to inform bills that they introduced in those legislative sessions with extensive comments and stakeholder education. 

The NY PSC is committed to working with our coalition of supporters, including Citizens’ Campaign for the Environment, the New York League of Conservation Voters, Environmental Advocates NY, the National Resources Defense Council, and the NY State Association of Counties, among others, to support packaging EPR in the upcoming 2022 legislative session. With attention from environmental groups and the governor’s office, we have unprecedented opportunity in 2022 to make packaging EPR a realty for New York State.

NY PSC Supports Critical Amendments to New York’s Electronics Recycling Program

In September, the NY PSC provided comments to the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on the Proposed Part 368 Product Stewardship and Product Labeling regulations. Although DEC’s proposed regulations clarify certain elements in the Electronics Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act of 2010, amendments to the law are vital to ensuring that NYS municipalities and residents are no longer forced to pay for the recovery, recycling, and reuse of millions of pounds of materials covered by the original Act. In comments to DEC, NY PSC strongly recommended amending the statute to eliminate the mail-back provision as a sole means for manufacturers to comply with the convenience standard and to establish appropriate enforcement and penalty provisions to encourage manufacturer compliance.

“Same-as” bills for e-waste introduced by Senator Todd Kaminsky and Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter (S 1095 / A 4500) stalled in 2021. NY PSC will continue working with the state’s professional solid waste and recycling associations, including the New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling (NYSAR3), the Solid Waste Association of North America – NY Chapter (SWANA-NY), and the New York State Association for Solid Waste Management (NYSASWM) to support these amendments in 2022.

New York State News

NYSAR3 Fall Conference Resumes in Person with Success; Features Panel on EPR in NY State

NY PSC Board members, past and present, joined a slate of NY product stewardship experts to provide an in-depth look at new EPR program implementation for paint and pharmaceuticals and 2022 legislative proposals for packaging and carpet. Andrew Radin, New York PaintCare Program Manager, shared key information and the timeline for the paint program implementation; NYPSC Chair Dawn Timm of Niagara County shared the latest plans for packaging EPR legislative proposals; and NYPSC Treasurer, Resa Dimino of RRS, outlined the prospects for Carpet EPR legislation. View the full program online.

NYS DEC Establishes New York State Center for Sustainable Materials Management

The Center for Sustainable Materials Management – the first of its kind in the U.S. — was formed in September 2020 as a collaboration between SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) and Syracuse University with a $5.75 million, 5-year grant from NYS DEC. The Center is devoted to studying and advancing reduction, reuse, recycling, and compositing in NYS. In January 2021, the Center hired Kate Walker to serve as executive director. Prior to joining the Center, Kate managed a statewide outreach and education program for the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute at the Rochester Institute of Technology that provided over $1 million in funding to more than 100 organizations and municipalities throughout the state, including the NY PSC. The Center will focus on community engagement, outreach, policy development, public education, research, and technical assistance designed to promote waste prevention and reduction, particularly for packaging and product stewardship. The Center will be leading a stakeholder process on packaging stewardship in 2022. The Center will also encourage responsible purchasing, help develop markets for recyclable materials, and identify new methods to manage non-recyclable fibrous materials through composting and other conversion options.

New York State Drug Take Back Act Implementation Inches Forward

After long delay, NYS Department of Health Reviews Producer Plans for Drug Take Back. The NYS Department of Health (DOH) received stewardship plans from four organizations seeking to provide stewardship services under New York’s Drug Take Back Act, which took effect January 2019. Plans, with further modifications, were still under review as of the end of the year. The NY PSC will continue to push DOH to implement this critical Act as soon as possible.

New York Polystyrene Foam Ban Took Effect January 1, 2022; PFAS Ban to Take Effect End of 2022

After over a year of education, stakeholder engagement, and preparation, New York’s Expanded Polystyrene Foam Container and Polystyrene Loose Fill Packaging Ban went into effect on January 1. The law bans food service providers and stores (retail or wholesale) from selling, offering for sale, or distributing disposable polystyrene foam food service containers throughout the state. Additionally, it bans use of polystyrene loose fill (commonly referred to as packaging peanuts). The polystyrene ban will be followed by a ban on food packaging that contains intentionally added per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), such as grease-proofing and waterproofing. The ban, which takes effect December 31, 2022, targets food packaging intended for direct food contact that is made of plant fibers like paper and paperboard cups. Learn more about the laws here.

National Product Stewardship Updates

Packaging EPR Becomes Law in Maine and Oregon; More Packaging Laws Imminent

This summer, Maine and Oregon became the first two states to require producers of packaging, paper products, and food service ware (consumer brands) to fund and share responsibility for effective recovery and recycling programs throughout their states. Although both laws are EPR laws, they differ in significant ways.

Under Maine’s law, brand owners selling packaged goods into the state must pay fees on all packaging materials to a stewardship organization contracted by the state. That stewardship organization will assist municipalities to provide recycling services throughout the state and will reimburse municipalities for all costs of providing services, including collection, recycling, infrastructure investments, and resident education needed to capture materials statewide. The fee structure, to be determined by DEP rule with multi-stakeholder input, will also include financial incentives for recyclable packaging.

Under Oregon’s law, brand owners selling packaging, paper products, and food service ware in Oregon will join a stewardship organization and pay fees on the materials they sell, which are expected to cover roughly one-quarter (on average) of the costs of a modernized recycling system. In contrast to Maine’s law, which covers all recycling costs, producers under Oregon’s law will not cover the costs of collection, which will continue to be paid for by residential and commercial ratepayers. Local authorities will maintain operational control for collection services and public education programs, while producer funding will enable improvements such as recycling facility upgrades, broader collection services, and more accessible educational resources. Fees that producers pay to the stewardship organization will be based on factors such as recyclability, use of postconsumer recycled content, and the life-cycle impacts of the materials they use. The largest producers will also be required to perform life-cycle assessments on one percent of their products every two years. Oregon’s law also features a new multi-stakeholder group, known as the Oregon Recycling System Advisory Council, which will advise the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and stewardship organizations on key elements of the new program. The Oregon program heavily promotes equity and environmental justice, including requiring DEQ to conduct regular studies on access to recycling and enact new permitting and certification requirements for processors to provide living wages and benefits for their employees. You can learn more about how these programs will work on the ground in this free webinar produced by PSI.

First All Battery Law Established in District of Columbia; More to Follow

On March 16, 2021, the District of Columbia’s all-battery EPR bill officially passed into law, making it the first in the nation. In late 2020, the D.C. Legislative Council passed the bill, which was signed by the D.C. Mayor and sent to Congress for final review. The law ensures that producers fund and manage an effective recycling program in D.C. for single-use and rechargeable consumer batteries, as well for batteries in consumer products. Beyond DC’s law, legislation to establish battery EPR programs was introduced in 2021 in California (SB 289, which covers primary and rechargeable batteries) and New York (S 4063, which is focused on primary batteries). S 2906, a bill to amend New York’s existing rechargeable battery law, was also introduced in 2021. California’s bill failed to pass this year after moving through several Senate committees and is expected to be reintroduced in 2022. In Canada, Saskatchewan launched its new batteries EPR program, joining other provinces with batteries stewardship programs, including British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec.

New Pharmaceuticals Law Will Help Mainers Dispose of Unused Drugs Safely and for Free

LD 8, sponsored by Senator Anne Carney and championed by former Senator Geoffrey Gratwick, establishes a network of drug-collection kiosks and prepaid mail-back envelopes to supplement law enforcement locations. The new drug take-back program – which is similar to laws in six other states (including NYS) and 23 local jurisdictions – will decrease the risk of accidental poisoning and drug overdoses by preventing unused medications from accumulating in homes and getting into the wrong hands. It will also prevent water contamination by offering a safer alternative to landfilling or flushing of unwanted drugs.

Statewide Paint Program Launches in Washington

PaintCare launched their tenth statewide program in Washington State on April 1, 2021. PaintCare now operates a total of 10 programs with the District of Columbia, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The 11th program will launch in New York State in May 2022. The Washington program was established by the state’s paint stewardship law (SHB 1652), which passed in the Washington State Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee in 2019. The law is built on a model mediated by PSI over a decade ago. A small fee on the sale of new paint – called the PaintCare fee – funds all aspects of the program, including collection, transport, processing, and public education. The PaintCare fee varies by container size and state. Find all the PaintCare fee amounts on their website. Two states have advanced paint stewardship bills similar to the PaintCare model with one notable difference – the inclusion of aerosol paints, which have been grown in popularity since the PaintCare program was established in 2010 and are increasingly found in the household hazardous waste stream. A national, PSI-facilitated stakeholder conversation about the inclusion of aerosols in the PaintCare program is anticipated in the coming year, as are new legislative proposals including aerosols.

Events, Webinars, and Conferences


Webinar | NERC & NEWMOA: Recycled Content Mandates: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly, January 6, 12:30-2:00 p.m. ET. Recycled content mandates are growing in popularity as a policy mechanism to engage producers in responsibility for recycling markets. But not all recycled content mandates are the same, and some have the potential for unintended consequences. This webinar will take a closer look at several, quite different recycled content mandates in the State of California, some of the potential economic and environmental limitations of recycled content mandates, and whether or how mandates might support, or conflict with, broader extended producer responsibility policies and climate protection efforts. The presenters will share their perspectives on how to make policies focused on post-consumer recycled content mandates more effective and better integrated with other policies. Register today.

2022 NY Federation Conference | Solid Waste & Recycling: Strive for Sustainability. The annual NY Federation Conference is back at the Sagamore in 2022, striving for sustainability. May 22-25, 2022. Watch for more information & register.


Webinar | Maine and Oregon: The New Frontiers of Packaging EPR

Free recording available

With Maine and Oregon passing the nation’s first extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws for packaging this year, there is much interest in what the EPR programs will look like once they launch and how each state arrived at its unique program model. While each law takes a distinct approach to EPR, they represent important progress in holding producers accountable for the packaging they use and creating more accessible, effective, and stable recycling systems.

In this webinar, experts from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality share about their groundbreaking new laws. Watch the recording to learn about the landmark laws straight from the source. You will come away with a more nuanced understanding of the landmark laws and hear how the two compare.

Webinar | EPR for Solar Panels in New York

Free recording available

In this info session cosponsored by Niagara County and the New York State Association of Counties, policy experts from Niagara County, Washington State, solar panel recycler ERI, and PSI discuss the growing interest in solar panel EPR legislation and how New York counties, New York State, and other governments throughout the country can craft similar legislation.

Webinar | The Spectrum of Approaches to U.S. Packaging EPR: From Reimbursement to Full Responsibility

Free recording available

In this webinar, learn the EPR models in use throughout the U.S. from PSI and experts from New York, Vermont, and Maryland, who share insights into why each state has taken a distinct approach.

Web Symposium | Rolling Out the Carpet to Recycling & the Circular Economy

Free recordings available

A recent surge of interest among U.S. governments in extended producer responsibility legislation for carpet has led to the introduction of four bills across the country this year. At the same time, recent developments in technology and markets are fueling expanded opportunities for carpet recycling. In this two-part virtual symposium, carpet policy experts (including NY PSC’s own Resa Dimino), U.S. carpet recyclers, and manufacturers using recycled carpet polymers share information about innovative policy development, advanced recycling technologies, and new markets that are making it possible to put recycled carpet polymers back into carpet, textiles, packaging, and building products. Our speakers also address the many benefits of carpet recycling, including greenhouse gas and toxics reductions, job creation, and economic growth.

Support the NY PSC

New York’s extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws for electronics, thermostats, rechargeable batteries, pharmaceuticals, and paint are saving local governments millions of dollars in waste management costs each year by making manufacturers responsible for the materials they sell.

Please consider reinvesting that savings to support the NY PSC. Become a sponsor with a donation today.

In 2022 we have unprecedented opportunity to transform New York’s solid waste management system for the better. With your generous contribution, NYPSC can seize these opportunities to establish EPR for packaging and save municipalities millions of dollars annually; modernize our battery EPR program; advocate for statewide solar panel EPR; push for carpet EPR; and develop a framework for introducing EPR for mattresses, textiles, and other materials streams.

Please consider demonstrating your support with a sponsorship today.

What We’re Reading

On Packaging

On Equity

On Batteries