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Food Scrap Generator Recycling Proposed Regulations

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued proposed regulations to implement the requirements outlined in the state Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling law enacted in 2019. The purpose of the law is to increase the donation of wholesome food to those in need and to increase the recycling of food scraps, and it takes effect Jan. 1, 2022. Written public comments will be accepted by DEC through April 27, 2021. Public hearing webinars will also be held on April 7th; click here for more information.

While LeadingAge NY appreciated the spirit of this law, we were concerned about its potential impact and worked to ensure that our members did not have to comply with more unfunded mandates. We are pleased to report that adult care facilities (ACFs) and nursing homes are exempt from this requirement; however, we are trying to determine how it may impact other members, particularly senior housing. Members are encouraged to review the standards so that we can determine what advocacy is needed.

The proposed regulations require large generators of food scraps to donate excess food and recycle all remaining food scraps if they are located within 25 miles of an organics recycler. The requirement applies to any business entity, partnership, company, corporation, not-for-profit corporation, association, governmental entity, public benefit corporation, public authority, firm, or organization which generates at a single location an annual average of two tons per week or more of food scraps, on a wet weight basis. “Single location” means contiguous property under common ownership, which may include one or more buildings. Entities to which the regulation is intended to apply 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.

For a location with multiple independent food service businesses, such as a mall or college campus, the entity responsible for contracting for solid waste transportation services is responsible for managing food scraps from the independent businesses. The quantity of food scraps generated is determined by the amount of food scraps collected by each waste transporter servicing the location. If any transporter collects more than an annual average of two tons per week or more of food scraps, on a wet weight basis, all the food service businesses at a single location using that transporter are required to comply.

The proposed regulations provide a process by which food scraps must be donated or recycled and offer a waiver process given certain conditions are met.

In addition to the exemption for ACFs and nursing homes, hospitals, elementary, and secondary schools are also exempt. Additionally, the regulation would not apply to any designated food scraps generators located in a city with a population of one million or more which has enacted a local law, ordinance, or regulation at least as stringent as, or more stringent than, the requirements of this proposed regulation which requires the diversion of edible food and food scraps from disposal.

Members are encouraged to review the requirements and let us know what questions and concerns they have. The full text of the proposed regulation can be accessed here.

Contact: Diane Darbyshire, ddarbyshire@leadingageny.org, or Sara Neitzel, sneitzel@leadingageny.org. Both can be reached at 518-867-8383.