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The New York State Center for Sustainable Materials Management Launches New York State Recycling System Needs Assessment Project

Today, the Center for Sustainable Materials Management (CSMM), housed at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), began a partnership with Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) to launch the process of conducting a statewide needs assessment and gap analysis for New York’s recycling system.

The CSMM vision is to make New York State a driving force of the future by galvanizing and leading all sectors of the State to apply the principles of sustainable materials management, propelling the State to become the least resource consumptive and most circular in the country. RRS is a consulting firm with a vision for a waste-free future and nearly 40 years’ experience working toward creating a world where resources are managed to maximize economic and social benefits while minimizing environmental harm.  

The New York needs assessment will compile data on how the recycling system in the state operates, including the amount and types of material collected, hauling and sorting infrastructure, and required operational and capital investment needs. In this initial phase, CSMM and RRS, in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders, will create a detailed plan for how the objectives of the needs assessment will be accomplished and begin compiling data. Funding for this project comes from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund and is administered through a Memorandum of Understanding with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

A comprehensive needs assessment and meaningful gap analysis are critical first steps to New York State meeting its recycling rate goals for the total waste stream of 85% by 2050. This collaborative project is being undertaken in anticipation of an extended producer responsibility program for paper and packaging products being passed into law, which will lift the financial burden of recycling from municipalities and require manufacturers to fund the recycling system. If passed, the law is expected to call for several improvements to the recycling system. Identifying the necessary improvements and the potential costs of these advancements will streamline implementation and move the state closer to its waste reduction goals.

“The needs assessment and gap analysis project will provide New York State the essential data needed to address fast-approaching policy and funding decisions as we advance to a more circular economy. CSMM is uniquely positioned to launch this critical and timely project; we are delighted to be partnering with the cutting-edge team of professionals at RRS. Together we will continue to collectively challenge the concept of ‘waste,’ through reimagining and redefining how we manage materials.”  said Kate Walker, executive director, the NYS Center for SMM.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “New York State’s continued partnership with the Center for Sustainable Materials Management helps address some of our state’s most pressing recycling challenges. Working with manufacturers to reduce waste while increasing recycling is embedded in Governor Hochul’s proposed Waste Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act that complements the goals of New York State’s Draft Solid Waste Management Plan. Today’s announcement marks an important step to establishing the foundational needs assessment and gap analysis to best target investments for a more sustainable and user-friendly recycling system.” 

New York State is on the leading edge of waste reduction and recycling and is proving that point by starting this critical needs assessment in advance of EPR policy adoption,” said RRS Managing Principal Resa Dimino.RRS' depth of experience and strong knowledge of how recycling works in New York and around the country will help us identify what is needed to build the current recycling infrastructure into the world class system New Yorkers need.”




About CSMM

The Center for Sustainable Materials Management was established at ESF in the spring of 2020 through a NYS Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) grant administered by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The Center places ESF, DEC, and their partners in a leadership role regarding materials (waste) reduction, reuse, and recycling in New York and the US. The Center’s mission is to inspire, lead, and connect a diverse group of people and organizations that will collectively challenge the concept of “waste,” through redefining and reimagining how we procure, produce, consume, manage, and market materials.

Founded in 1911, ESF is one of the nation's premier colleges focused exclusively on the study of the environment, developing renewable technologies, and building a sustainable future. The College is a recognized leader in the practice of sustainability and is consistently ranked as one of the “greenest” colleges in the nation.

About RRS

Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, RRS is a sustainability and recycling consulting firm that strives to create a world where resources are managed to maximize economic and social benefit while minimizing environmental harm. The firm has industry professionals, engineers, economists, technical analysts, and communication specialists who share this vision and possess core strengths in materials and recovery, life cycle management, applied sustainable design, and collaborative action development.