To the editors:
The waste crisis in our landfills is a pressing issue that requires sustainable innovation and practical legislation to solve. Current practices involving incineration lead to the release of waste into the atmosphere and produce toxic ash, which still requires disposal in a landfill. This highlights the need for resource efficiency and waste reduction, as these are signs of inefficiency.
To address this problem, companies must focus on new recycling technologies, while legislative measures need to make it easier for them to adapt, transition, change, and manage manufacturing processes. Municipal and private resource management systems are falling short in keeping waste out of land, air, and waterways, alongside the continuous extraction of new raw materials that pose environmental challenges. A circular economy is the solution, which enhances and protects New York’s natural resources and promotes community well-being.
Unlike the current linear model of resource use, the circular economy model relies on both traditional or mechanical recycling and molecular recycling from material to material, previously considered waste. Adopting a circular economy would encourage recycling and reuse of existing products, reducing the need to use additional natural and financial resources to create new ones. It would provide economic efficiency alongside environmental sustainability that would create new job opportunities statewide.
Enacting an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program would help move New York towards a circular economy. EPR would hold producers accountable for managing the shelf life of their packaging and encourage the development of more sustainable products and packaging. This would significantly reduce waste and combat climate change. However, to maximize waste recycling, recycling infrastructure needs innovation and updates. Currently, mechanical recycling facilities only recycle clean plastics with numbers 1, 2, or 5. To increase recycling rates, material-to-material molecular recycling options must be incorporated into the EPR program.
New York has the potential to be a leader in the transition towards a circular economy. We urge the Legislature to pass an EPR program that embraces recycling innovation to create a more sustainable and economically viable future for our state.
New York Sustainable Business Council
The Albany New York Sustainable Business Council is an organization that represents over 2,000 businesses in the state.