New website by DEC and SUNY ESF takes the guesswork out of recycling


(WSYR-TV) — To recycle or not to recycle? That is the question is answering.

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have launched a first-of-its-kind statewide recycling website, addressing recycling confusion.

The Recycle Right NY campaign was originally launched by the DEC in 2018 to address the challenges facing New York’s recycling system. Campaign management transitions to the Syracuse University Center for Sustainable Community solutions (SU-CSCS) where teams built out the resource.

Recycling guidelines differ across the state so items that are accepted at one local recycling center may not be accepted at another, which can lead to confusion and negatively impacts New York’s recycling system. When non-recyclable items are placed in recycling bins, those items can damage facility equipment, decrease the value of other recovered materials, and adds cost to facilities.

The new website features a search tool to find local recycling guidelines and a “Recyclopedia” with tips to recycling or reusing more than 300 common household items.

“So many people ask me: Can any item with the recycling symbol on it be recycled? Recycling can be confusing and often leads residents to “wish-cycle,” or optimistically place items in their recycling bin even if it is not an acceptable recyclable item. Meanwhile, municipalities face complex challenges to properly collect, sort, and market clean recyclable materials. I am thrilled that the Recycle Right NY effort will reduce contamination of recycling streams across the State by offering direct support to community leaders on how their residents can improve their recycling habits,” said Gary Carrel, NYS Association for Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling (NYSAR3) Board Pres-ident and Erie County Solid Waste Recycling Specialist.

“Our goal is to make recycling easy to understand and simple to do. We hope to shift the perception of used materials as ‘waste to be discarded’ to ‘resources to be recovered ‘”, said Melissa Young, Assistant Director for Syracuse University’s Center for Sustainable Community Solutions, “Beyond recycling, we hope to inspire and empower New Yorkers to reduce and reuse items when possible, which will greatly aid us in our journey to becoming the lowest waste-producing state in the country.”

Recycle Right NY has also launched its own social media and e-newsletter. It plans to develop new educational resources for New York’s residents.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “New York leads the nation in educating the public on the importance of reducing solid waste through reduction, reuse, and recycling. DEC launched the Recycle Right NY campaign working with recycling professionals, and we are eager to expand this effort through our partnership with ESF. All New Yorkers can do their part to ensure we reduce waste and improve recycling, and this outreach and education effort will connect communities with the tools they need to develop best practices for assisting residents in recycling materials from the waste stream into viable commodities for manufacturing.”

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