ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN/WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) — Experts say New York landfills are reaching their limits, all while polluting our land and air ways. Much of the material is exported to upstate counties or out of state to Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. And when it comes to recycling, it’s not being utilized as it should, “We divert something like 18% of the total material for recycling, which is miserable,” said Maggie Clarke, Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board member.

She said 82% of the city’s trash is being exported, “And most of what is exported is reusable, recyclable, or compostable. We’re spending on this export, it’s in the hundreds of millions, like four or five hundred million dollars every year,” said Clarke. And, it’s bad for the environment. DEC proposed a Solid Waste Management Plan that the public was allowed to comment on until June. Part of their proposal includes launching a statewide fee for every ton of trash that does not get recycled or composted. 

The draft says even if there’s a surcharge of $5 per ton, it would discourage disposal and also generate $133 million per year. In a statement DEC said in part: “By focusing on reducing waste at its source, returning materials back to productive use, and diverting waste from landfills, harmful greenhouse gas emissions will be avoided while sustaining the supply chain.” Looking at the 558-page document Clarke said there were not enough clear goals put in place, “Let’s do a little more of this, let’s do a little more of that, let’s do a little more of this other thing, let’s do some of that – and there’s no idea as to when something will actually be achieved”

That’s why her board proposed start and end dates for DECs initiatives. The Department is reviewing more than 1000 comments before adopting a final plan.