ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN)- New York is not only committed to producing green energy but it’s also committed to going green through other measures. By implementing green initiatives like recycling, sustainability, and using green cleaning products, New York has been working to reduce its environmental footprint.

Despite challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the state said it has continued to make progress in reducing its footprint, according to its 2020-2021 Greening New York State Progress Report. It also said green initiatives continue to save the state money as well. 

State agencies reported a recycling rate of 94%, the highest rate recorded in history. 68% of them are using energy-efficient landscape designs, which place trees or shrubs in strategic locations to produce shade and/or block the wind. Most (64 of 70 reporting state agencies) have been able to eliminate the purchase of bottled water, except where exceptions exist.

“While COVID-19 tested New York, State agencies rose to the occasion. In FY (fiscal year) 20–21, progress toward making State government operate more sustainably continued, as the State saw record funding spent on green products and services, an unprecedentedly high recycling rate, numerous contracts for large-scale renewable energy systems signed, and an increased focus on training and sustaining the employees who will ensure that even more sustainability projects get completed in the future,” the report said.

Green initiative successes highlighted in the report

  • 68% of state agencies reported a decrease in waste generation in FY 20–21, most reporting a decrease of 50% or more
  • 87% of agencies that operate laboratories have put measures in place to purchase the smallest amount of substances needed to operate
  • 40% of the projects for energy savings necessary to achieve the BuildSmart 2025 goal of 11 trillion BTUs at state facilities are either completed or are in the works
  • Nearly 25% of state agencies generated on- or off-site renewable energy
  • More than 5% of the state’s light-duty fleet are zero-emission vehicles
  • 66% of state agencies use landscaping practices that promote the use of native species for pollinator protection
  • $300 million in spending on green products and services, such as computers, furniture, and green cleaning products took place in FY 20–21, a 42% increase from FY 19–20
  • 60% of dollars spent on copy paper in FY 20–21 went to purchase 100% post-consumer recycled content, processed chlorine-free paper, up 38-percentage points from FY 08–09
  • Nine agencies reported new initiatives to reduce the purchase of bottled water, which saved more than $105,000

“Increasing sustainability in State government is a win-win for both the environment and the economy. It significantly reduces pollution and waste while saving taxpayer dollars,” it said in the report. Of all the green initiatives used by state agencies, reducing the amount of energy used saved them the most, followed by waste prevention and getting away from using water bottles.

Check out the full 2020-2021 Greening New York State Progress Report below: