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District 4

Keith Powers

Midtown South-Flatiron-Union Square, Midtown-Times Square, Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, Murray Hill-Kips Bay, East Midtown-Turtle Bay, United Nations, Upper East Side-Carnegie Hill

Legislation would create minimum threshold of recycling and composting sites across five boroughs, allowing for proper disposal of non-general waste and refuse

New York, NY, May 13, 2020 — New York City Council Members Keith Powers and Antonio Reynoso today introduced the “Community Organics and Recycling Empowerment (CORE)” Act, legislation that would allow for the recycling of organic and inorganic recyclables not collected at the curb at mandated, proper disposal sites.

Intro. 1942, sponsored by Council Member Powers of Manhattan, would require three drop-off composting sites in each community district. Intro. 1943, sponsored by Council Member Reynoso of Brooklyn, would allow for collection of recyclable materials such as electronics, which by State law cannot be disposed of into our general waste stream. In light of recent cuts to composting programs in New York City, 175 community sites have been shut down and curbside e-waste collection has been suspended, leaving the city’s residents without a green mechanism to dispose of this waste.

The CORE Act would allow for the continued practice of recycling both organic and inorganic material. The Act would not only help to preserve the city’s organics program but would create equitable access to recycling.

“New Yorkers want to do their part to make our city—and world—a better place. Even before this unprecedented crisis, we faced the compounding crisis of climate change,” said Council Member Keith Powers. “The Community Organics and Recycling Empowerment (CORE) Act allows for us to do our part and keep taking action. Continuing composting and recycling across neighborhoods will ensure waste is disposed of in a way that is best for our environment, and for each other.”

“The devastation of the COVID19 pandemic underscores that we must do all we can now to avoid the larger crisis that looms before us: climate change,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “How we process the waste that we produce here in NYC is an essential complement of our City’s plan to reach our Zero Waste goals while supporting global sustainability efforts. In order for New York City to properly process its waste, residents must be given the ability to sustainably dispose of their waste. The Community Organics and Recycling Empowerment Act (CORE), introduced today by myself and Council Member Keith Powers, will allow New Yorkers to be able to sustainably dispose of their waste, despite the City’s pause on the curbside organics collection program, while achieving budget savings.” 

Currently, proper disposal sites serve as hubs in neighborhoods across the city to collect organics and other waste that should not go to landfill. With this legislation, 177 disposal sites would be preserved or created across the city. These sites will continue despite the city’s halt on curbside composting. The breakdown of organic waste in landfill creates harmful greenhouse gases. When this waste is diverted, the compost works to sequester carbon, removing it from the atmosphere.

Salvaging proper disposal methods and organics collection now could also make it easier for the city’s curbside composting program to bounce back in the future. Since the Bloomberg administration suspended plastics and glass recycling in 2002, in the midst of another recession, the city’s recycling rates have never fully rebounded. The collection sites mandated in the legislation would keep habits of proper disposal alive, helping to ensure the success of our city’s organics program once it is restored.

“The CORE Act lays the groundwork for a sustainable and healthier future for our city,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “As we prepare to re-open our city, environmental sustainability must be a key part of keeping our city safe and healthy, and that means common-sense measures like providing New Yorkers with the ability to dispose of their organic and inorganic recyclable materials at community drop-off centers. I commend Council Member Keith Powers and Council Member Antonio Reynoso for this legislation.”

“The COVID-19 crisis threatens to derail the tremendous progress we’ve made in diverting waste from landfills as both composting and electronics recycling programs have ground to a halt,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “We can’t let this happen — one-third of New York City’s massive waste stream is organic material alone. Composting and electronics recycling are absolutely essential to making our city sustainable for the long-term and we can do it in a safe, smart way. Council Members Powers’ and Reynoso’s bills show the way forward, and I am proud to co-sponsor them.”

“I’m grateful for the leadership of Council Members Powers and Reynoso to ensure that New Yorkers have a sustainable option for dealing with organic and electronic waste,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “While next year’s budget must reflect shared sacrifices, including the suspension of the curbside compost program beloved in my district, we must continue to move forward towards a cost-effective, citywide organic waste program. We can’t let the COVID crisis make our city less resilient in the face of the climate crisis.”

“It’s imperative that our City continue to move towards a zero waste future, and that can only occur if we embrace easy to use methods for composting and electronic recycling. These two pieces of legislation being introduced by Council Member Powers and Reynoso will play a critical role in that effort by providing neighborhood sites around the city for green waste collection and management, and I’m proud to co-sponsor both bills,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera.

“New York City cannot allow Covid-19 and its economic fallout to undo the progress we have made toward helping the environment,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Composting and recycling e-waste, both have tremendous benefits in curbing greenhouses gasses and reducing waste. This legislation works to make sure our City continues to do both of those things effectively despite possible changes coming to our City budget.” 

“With the introduction of these two bills today, Council Members Reynoso and Powers are demonstrating leadership, problem solving, and vision. This legislation not only helps to fix the problems caused by short-sighted cuts to waste reduction and recycling programs, but will also ensure that communities left out of previous programs now have access to recycling and composting drop-off centers. NYLPI is proud to stand with the Council in working to continue to expand, not contract, the City’s efforts to divert waste from landfill. In particular, we look forward to seeing the budget restore the Mayor’s proposed cuts to funding to community composting, and working with the Council to pass these two crucial bills, as well as legislation mandating that curbside organics collection be the norm citywide in the next few years,” said Melissa Iachan, Senior Staff Attorney, Environmental Justice Program at NYLPI.

“Passing these bills will increase equity in access to organics and inorganics recycling in NYC, enabling the City to divert valuable organic materials and hazardous products from landfills and incinerators. This is a very important step even while we continue urging New York City’s decision-makers to take faster, bolder actions toward a just transition and zero waste goals, by enacting thoughtful mandatory organics and inorganics collection programs citywide, including in the often-deprioritized outer boroughs and NYCHA developments,” said Tok Michelle O. Oyewole, Ph.D., New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. 

“If we want to save green jobs, curb global warming emissions and protect public health, we must preserve and expand community composting drop-off sites where residents from all city neighborhoods can bring food scraps and electronic waste for safe and convenient disposal.  While protecting New Yorkers from the coronavirus must remain job #1, community composting and recycling should be viewed as essential city programs.  We welcome in advance the good work of Councilmembers Powers and Reynoso, as well as Speaker Corey Johnson and the legislation’s other co-sponsors, to continue and grow these programs, which are critical to the city’s long-term, sustainable future,” said Eric A. Goldstein, NYC Environment Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Composting is essential to reduce New York City’s climate change impact and part of a Green New Deal response to the current economic crisis. Local non-profit composting projects process millions of pounds of compost, educate tens of thousands of New Yorkers, and provide free compost to hundreds of community groups for greening projects. This bill will restore those projects and composting in NYC while the city council continues to work toward mandatory curbside composting,” said Justin Green, Big Reuse.

“As Chairs of the City’s three Solid Waste Advisory Boards (Manhattan SWAB, Brooklyn SWAB, Queens SWAB Organizing Committee), we know that recovering organic and inorganic materials is more economical and environmentally just than transporting it out of our neighborhoods and into communities across the state and around the country where it causes greater harm.  This is why we support localized composting and recycling centers as equitable and sustainable practices that will help our City be more resilient and ensure that what we now call “trash” can instead be viewed as the valuable resource we know it to be,” said Matt Civello, Manhattan SWAB Chair; Wylie Goodman, Queens SWAB Organizing Committee Chair; Shari Rueckl Brooklyn SWAB Chair.

The legislation will be reviewed at a future hearing of the Sanitation Committee.