The New York State Solid Waste
News From Assemblymember William Colton
Chair, Legislative Commission on Solid Waste Management
4 Empire State Plaza, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12248 • (518) 455-3711 Spring Edition 2002

Assemblyman William Colton

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

The Commission had an interesting and challenging year in 2001. We continued our focus on several issues such as electronic equipment recycling/reuse/re-manufacturing reform; closing the loophole that permits open burning of household garbage in certain municipalities; oversight of the Stateís Scrap Tire Council findings and report; and production of our traditional report "Where Will the Garbage Go - 2000".

This year I am proposing new legislation that includes: 1) creation of incentives to encourage the recycling, reuse and re-manufacturing of electronic equipment; 2) incentives to improve opportunities and interest in solid waste recycling; 3) regulation of disposable cellular telephones; and 4) the establishment of a comprehensive scrap tire management program. These issues are discussed further in the newsletter.

I am particularly concerned, both as Commission Chair and a representative of a district in Brooklyn, about the future of recycling in New York City. The Mayor of New York City proposes to place an 18-month moratorium on the recycling of glass, metals and plastics, although continuing the collection of newspapers. Furthermore, the Mayor proposes to eliminate the New York State 5-cent deposit on beer and soda bottles in New York City and replace it with a 5-cent tax on these containers to pay for the recycling program in the City. The Mayor has also indicated that he intends to scrap the Cityís solid waste plan, and is considering incineration as an option, because of the long-term problems with disposal of the Cityís waste. It is my position that whatever the Mayor proposes be subject to extensive public input and review through public hearings in every borough of the City. I have grave concerns about any plan which opts for incineration, a failed solution from the past. The Commission will also examine the impact of the Mayorís proposals via our annual report "Where Will the Garbage Go?"


Burn Barrels

Electronic Equipment Recycling

Governorís Budget Cuts

Legislative Report - 2002

Recycling and Solid Waste Funding

Where Will the Garbage Go - 2001

Public Health & Environmental Exposures At Ground Zero


Patrick Golden
Marilyn M. DuBois
Richard Morse
Percival Miller

The Commission will take the opportunity during the Budget development process to focus on administration and implementation of the Environmental Protection Fund, as discussed in the Newsletter Budget article. We expect to hold a number of roundtables and public forums during 2002 and encourage the public to attend these events. The Commission will be working with the Legislative Commission on Toxic Substances and Hazardous Wastes on a number of issues, including environmental health tracking, mercury reduction, and pollution prevention.

I encourage our readers to communicate with me on matters of concern to them. I value your input and interest.



Photo Assemblymember Colton at his press conference announcing his introduction of the Scrap Tire Utilization and Management Act.

In addition to new legislative initiatives reported in the article on Electronic Equipment Recycling, Reuse and Re-manufacturing in this Newsletter edition, Assemblymember Colton has introduced bills on several other new topics.

INSENTIVES FOR RECYLCING ACTIVITIES: Assemblymember Colton has introduced the following bills that will provide additional incentives to encourage and facilitate recycling efforts in New York State:

A 10149 COLTON, ENGLEBRIGHT, COLMAN et al: The bill would grant a State sales and use tax exemption for transportation of used goods to be recycled, reused or re-manufactured. This modest exemption should assist in recycling materials, such as electronic equipment, and provide a disincentive to disposing of such equipment in landfills. Assembly Ways & Means Committee

A 10150 COLTON, ENGLEBRIGHT, COLMAN et al: The bill would exempt rental costs for pallets and containers used to transport materials to be recycled from the State sales and use tax. Current NYS law provides a sales and use tax exemption for purchase of a single or limited use pallet or container. However, rentals of such equipment, which reuses the same equipment many times, are not exempt from the tax. The bill corrects this inequity. Assembly Ways & Means Committee

A 10148 COLTON, ENGLEBRIGHT, COLMAN et al: The bill would provide an exemption from real property taxation for property used exclusively for recycling activities, to the extent of one-half of the assessed valuation of such portion of the land used for recycling. Assembly Real Property Taxation Committee

DISPOSABLE CELLULAR TELEPHONES: Use of reusable/rechargeable cellular telephones continues to rapidly grow in New York State. However, recent market introduction of disposable cellular telephones could substantially increase the solid waste stream. Electronic equipment, including cellular telephones, are categorized as hazardous waste, a large portion of disposable cellular telephones would end up in non-hazardous disposal facilities or as litter in the environment. Assemblymember Colton has introduced two bills to address this issue.

A 10259 COLTON, KOON, ENGLEBRIGHT, COLMAN, LAVELLE et al: The bill would prohibit the sale of disposable cellular telephones. Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee

A 10210 COLTON, ENGLEBRIGHT, LAVELLE, COLMAN et al: The bill would require retailers selling disposable cellular telephones to accept back and to recycle any cellular telephone they sell which is designed and marketed for use only for the period during which prepaid calling services are provided by the phone service supplier. Retailers selling such telephones are also required to post a sign stating that they take back these telephones at no charge. Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee

SCRAP TIRE MANAGEMENT AND DISPOSAL: Assemblymember Colton continues his advocacy for creation of a comprehensive scrap tire management program to reduce the millions of stockpiled scrap tires and to prevent future scrap tire stockpiles or illegal dumping of scrap tires. To that end, he has introduced the following legislation:

A 10260 COLTON, DiNapoli, Koon: The bill would create the Scrap Tire Utilization and Management Act, establishing a comprehensive scrap tire management program. DEC would be required to inventory scrap tire stockpiles and permitted scrap tire haulers in the state. Tire retailers and wholesalers would be required to take back used tires in exchange for purchased tires. The Department of Motor Vehicles would be authorized to collect a surcharge on motor vehicle registration based on vehicle types and weight to be placed in a dedicated Scrap Tire Utilization and Remediation Fund. The Fund would provide money for scrap tire clean up and market development for scrap tires. The bill also requires the Department of Transportation and the Thruway Authority to use rubber from tires generated in NYS for at least 35% and 20% respectively of their asphalt paving contracts. Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee


Commission Chair William Colton has been focusing on the issue of re-manufacturing, reuse and recycling of electronic equipment. The statistics on obsolete computers are overwhelming. As noted previously, todayís personal computers are outdated in about three years, and may be outdated in as little as two years by 2007. With obsolescence rates like these, more than 31 million computers across the country will be retired in the next year alone. Millions of old and obsolete television sets will add to the mountains of electronic equipment that potentially will be discarded by consumers. An estimated 40 million households will switch to high definition television sets within the next several years.

Computers, televisions, copiers and other electronic equipment present the same management concerns: tons of bulky waste containing hazardous constituents, which present potential environmental problems if, burned or buried. Carcinogenic flame-retardants, lead and other heavy metals, including cadmium, mercury and phosphorus, are found in this equipment. Since the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) classifies computers as hazardous waste if 220 pounds (approximately three computer systems) are discarded in a single month, businesses and institutions in particular must concern themselves with finding alternatives to disposal for their numerous outdated units.

"Todayís personal computers are outdated in about three years, and may be outdated in as little as two years by 2007. With obsolescence rates like these, more than 31 million computers across the country will be retired in the next year alone."


The Commission sponsored a second Roundtable on Electronic Equipment Reuse/Recycling/ Re-manufacturing in November 2001 at the Rochester Institute of Technology. In attendance were representatives of electronic equipment manufacturers, recyclers, resellers, re-manufacturers, as well as original manufacturers of this equipment.

The group discussed a broad spectrum of issues, including the standardization of electronic equipment recyclers and re-manufacturers; the need for labeling of electronic equipment components (e.g. plastic components); incentives for greater recovery, reuse and re-manufacturing of electronic equipment; protection of confidentiality of hard-drive information; markets for electronic scrap; and availability of grants to foster the growth of the industry.


The Commission visited Xerox Corporation in Rochester to view the companyís innovative program of re-manufacturing, reusing and recycling its copiers and printers. Equipment is received from a wide variety of sources and completely stripped down. Parts that can be cleaned and reused are processed. Any components that cannot be reused are recycled. The company re-sells the re-manufactured equipment with the same guarantees as its new equipment.

Personal Computer


Assemblymember Colton and Commission staff attended a tour of the IBM asset recovery center in Endicott. IBMs electronic equipment recovery is largely scrap computers from within the company itself, although IBM does take obsolete computers from other recyclers. IBM does take residential computers through a community/employee annual drop-off program for all Broome County residents and employees of IBM facilities.


Commission Chair Colton and his staff have been working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region II, the New York City Comptrollerís Office and Per Scholas (a non-profit organization located in the South Bronx) to increase opportunities to recover computers in the New York City area.


The Commission has developed several legislative initiatives to address issues that have arisen with the advent of recovering electronic equipment, as well as incentives to increase recovery and reuse of this equipment:

  • A 10146 COLTON, ENGLEBRIGHT, WEPRIN, LAVELLE, COLMAN et al, Electronic Equipment Recycling Act: This comprehensive bill encourages the re-manufacturing, reuse and recycling of electronic equipment. Provisions include requirement that DEC identity electronic equipment containing hazardous materials; creates an electronic equipment recycling program that is funded by a five-dollar fee on the sale of cathode ray tubes (CRTs); prohibits the disposal of CRTs as solid waste; and establishes enforcement provisions for the program.

  • A 10151 COLTON, ENGLEBRIGHT, COLMAN et al, Electronic Equipment Recycling Tax Credit: The bill would establish a personal income tax credit for tax costs incurred for recycling electronic equipment.

    Photo Assemblymember Colton (left) discusses electronic equipment recycling, reuse and re-manufacturing with participants at the New York City Roundtable.

  • A 10147 COLTON, ENGLEBRIGHT, LAVELLE, COLMAN, et al, Standardization of Electronic Equipment Recycling Industry: The bill would require the Department of Environmental Conservation through rules and regulations to establish standards and guidelines for the electronic equipment recycling, reuse and re-manufacturing industries. These standards would ensure consistency in the industry and ensure that proper care is taken to recycle all appropriate components, reuse equipment when possible, and to encourage re-manufacturing of electronic equipment.

    The Commission will be continue to be involved in efforts to develop a sound and equitable policy on the environmentally sound reuse, remanufacture and recycling of electronic equipment and to work with recyclers and remanufacturers to create additional incentives for their activities.

  • Photo
    Assemblymembers Colton and Koon at the Rochester Roundtable on Electronic Equipment Recycling, Reuse and Remanufacturing.


    The Commission continues to ask this question of municipalities and as expected, the result is that there is good news and bad news! Some of the major findings of the report on year 2000 are enumerated below. The report will be issued in April 2002 and available from the Commission office.

    Diamond In 2000, 24 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) were managed in or exported from New York State, up 5.4% from the 1999 total.
    Diamond The amount of the MSW identified as recycled in 2000 was 7 million tons, representing 29.2% of the total identified waste stream, and up 18.9% from 1999.1
    Diamond Waste disposed at the 28 operating MSW landfills in New York State during 2000 totaled 7.6 million tons, a 8.1% decrease from the previous year.2,3 Landfilled waste accounted for 31.5% of the total waste stream in 2000.
    Diamond Waste combusted at 10 waste-to-energy (WTE) plants, 3.6 million tons in 2000, was a decrease of 40,000 tons (1.1%) from the 1999 level. This option accounted for 15.1% of the managed waste.
    Diamond Waste exported from the State totaled 5.8 million tons, up over 700,000 tons, or 13.9%, from 1999.3 Export represented 24.2% of the waste stream.
    Diamond In 2000 there were 28 operating MSW landfills, the same number that operated in 1999. There were no closings and no openings of landfills during 2000.

    Proposals by the Mayor of New York City, as described in the Chairís letter, will have considerable impact on solid waste management and recycling in New York State. The Commission will be examining and evaluating the effect of the Mayorís proposals and making recommendations on these matters. The Commissionís priority will be to ensure full public disclosure and discussion of the proposals prior to any actions being taken by the City.

    Municipal Solid Waste Management 2000


    1 Much of the increase in recycling can be attributed to the inclusion, for the first time in the Commissionís data compilation, of some of the commercial recycling in New York City (approximately 420,000 tons).

    2 The report this year excludes previously-included waste that was disposed at five landfills since 1996. These facilities used to be primarily MSW landfills but increasingly disposed of other types of waste. Their inclusion in the data was continued for consistency in yearly comparisons, but since 1996 they have disposed almost all non-MSW materials which provides another baseline from which to compare. The Commission now excludes these landfillsí data to retain this reportís primary focus on MSW management.

    3Much of the landfill decrease and export increase can be attributed to the inception during 1999 & 2000 of additional contracts by NYC for increased portions of the Cityís Department of Sanitation-collected residential waste to be diverted from disposal at Fresh Kills landfill to facilities outside of the City.

    For the past several years, the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and the Clean Water/ Clean Air Bond Act have provided the primary means of state financial assistance for local recycling and landfill closure activities.
    Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act

    In the FY 2001/2002 budget, Bond Act appropriations for solid waste programs totaled $45 million, consisting of $30 million for closure of Fresh Kills landfill, $13 million for grants for municipal recycling projects, and $2 million for landfill closure grants.

    Recycling Image

    For FY 2002/2003, the Governorís recommended funding for Bond Act solid waste programs totals $14.5 million, earmarked entirely for municipal recycling capital. The Governorís recommendation would fully appropriate the Bond Act authorization for the solid waste category.

    Environmental Protection Fund

    The Governorís FY 2002/2003 recommendations for the EPF include $3.75 million for municipal recycling/reduction programs (including grants for education efforts and personnel); $3.75 million for recycling market development initiatives (including pollution prevention efforts); and $450,000 for Adirondack landfill closures; a category newly proposed by the Governor. Additionally, the Governor recommends a Deficiency Budget appropriation for FY 2001/2002 in the same amount for the EPF solid waste programs that he recommends for FY2002/2003.

    Environmental Protection Fund Solid Waste Appropriations since FY96/97 & Recommended FY01/02 & FY02/03
    (millions of $)

    EPF Category*

    Municipal Recycling
    Secondary Materials
    Landfill Closure
    Adirondack Landfills*
        Total Solid Waste
    FY96-97 FY97-98 FY98-99** FY99-00 FY00-01 GOV RECs FY01-02*` GOV RECs FY02-03*
    *The Governor proposes a new category for "Adirondack Landfills" for FY 01/ 02 & FY 02/ 03.
    **In FY 98/ 99, an appropriation of $6.25 million was enacted by the legislature, but $.25 million was vetoed by the Governor.

    Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act Solid Waste Appropriations since FY96/97 & Recommended FY02/03
    (millions of $)

    Bond Act Program Category

    Municipal Recycling
    Fresh Kills Landfill
    Landfill Closure
        Total Solid Waste
    FY96-97^ FY97-98 FY98-99 FY99-00 FY00-01 FY01-02 GOV RECs FY02-03^^

    ^The $35 million in parentheses is a reappropriation based on FY 97/ 98 appropriation levels.
    ^^The Governorís recommendation fully appropriates the remaining balances of the Bond Actís Solid Waste category.


    On January 22, 2002 the Governor unveiled his budget proposal for the State fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2002. Two areas of environmental funding will be critical to this yearís budget discussion - allocation of the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and refinancing of the State Superfund. The Assembly hopes to deal with both of these issues in a timely manner.

    The Environmental Protection Fund

    The EPF was established in 1993 as a "locked box" fund, so that financial resources would be available for environmental projects in good times and bad times. The Assembly has fought to protect the integrity of the Fund. Historically, the Assembly has successfully prevented the Governor from diverting money from the Fund for other purposes.

    Last year the Governor proposed $150 million, the Assembly $187 million and the Senate $170 million funding for the EPF. Along with many other critical issues, the Legislature did not come to agreement with the Governor. Due to Constitutional constraints, the EPF could not be included in the baseline budget enacted in August 2001. While the Assembly advocated funding the EPF in the supplemental budget passed in November 2001, the Governor refused to negotiate this matter. As a result, many critical environmental projects across the State have been seriously delayed because of lack of funding.

    Due to last yearís Budget impasse, the Governor is recommending two years of funding for EPF in this yearís budget totaling $250 million, and diverting another $100 million from the Fund for other purposes. In addition, the Governor proposes off-loading another $58.4 million of costs for other programs not normally paid by the Fund, onto the EPF. In order to do this, the Governor is recommending decreasing the amount of EPF money traditionally allocated to certain environmental programs.

    Of particular concern to Chairman Colton is the Governorís proposed funding levels for the municipal recycling program. The Governor has recommended $3.75 million for this program for each of the two fiscal years (FY 2001/2002 and FY 2002/2003), down from $6.2 million for municipal recycling in FY 2000/2001, the last year EPF funds were appropriated. There is a waiting list of municipal recycling project applications worth over $11 million. Through a recent Assembly initiative, the program was expanded to include funding for municipal recycling coordinators and recycling education programs - there are 50 applications worth over $8 million on the waiting list. One of the Stateís most effective ways of promoting waste reduction and recycling is by providing funding assistance to our local governments.

    The Assembly will continue to protect the integrity of the EPF by assuring that these critical environmental programs are sufficiently funded.

    The State Superfund

    The State Superfund, used to investigate and clean-up toxic sites through the State, has run out of money. The program has been financed historically thorough the 1986 Environmental Quality Bond Act which is now fully committed. Fifty percent of the debt on these bonds is paid from industry fees and fifty percent is taxpayer-funded.

    The Governor proposes to shift the costs of the Stateís Superfund cleanup program from polluters to taxpayers. Under the Governorís plan, taxpayers would assume an additional $626 million burden. This would be accomplished by melding the Superfund program with the Oil Spill clean-up program (historically supported 100% by spillers and the oil companies). The shift would abandon the 100 % industry support for the Oil Spill Fund, thereby increasing taxpayer contributions overall to the new Fund. Furthermore, the Governorís proposal would lower cleanup standards, making them less protective of human health and the environment.

    The Assembly believes that this critical program can be refinanced without making these compromises. The Assembly also believes that it has a concurrent opportunity to create a comprehensive brownfields program that will effectively clean-up these contaminated sites, provide community participation in these decisions and lead to real economic redevelopment in New York State.

    Photo One of the Stateís most effective ways of promoting waste reduction and recycling is by providing funding assistance to our local governments.

    Other Issues

    This yearís budget may present additional opportunities to address other environmental concerns including

    • expanding pesticide protections and establishing pilot programs to eliminate or reduce pesticide use;

    • creating new opportunities for pollution prevention programs;

    • protecting childrenís environmental health and safety by promoting alternatives to diesel-powered school buses and supporting retrofit programs for diesel school buses; and

    • initiating mercury fever thermometer take-back programs.


    ó September 11, 2001ó
    Long-term Public Health and Environmental Exposure Impacts Raised at Hearings in New York City

    Assemblymember William Colton attended the New York State Assembly Public Hearing held in November 2001, in response to significant concerns about the public health and environmental impacts of the World Trade Center attack and collapse on September 11, 2001. Witnesses included panels of elected officials, community groups, governmental agencies and representatives from environmental, health and labor organizations.

    The devastation created by the terrorist action in Lower Manhattan has left not only emotional scars on the victims and our nation, but has created the potential for serious short and long-term health impacts for thousands of rescue and recovery individuals who responded to the crisis without thought of personal harm. As the rescue, recovery and cleanup efforts progressed, issues regarding worker safety and hazardous material exposures to workers and residents of lower Manhattan have arisen.

    Photo Assemblymember Colton, sitting next to Speaker Sheldon Silver, questions State and federal officials about about solid and hazardous waste, and public health issues, at the World Trade Center hearing.

    The devastation created by the terrorist action in Lower Manhattan has left not only emotional scars on the victims and our nation, but has created the potential for serious short and long-term health impacts...

    Insufficient disclosure of information and inadequacy of testing methods used at the Ground Zero area resulted in local residents reentering their homes before adequate cleaning or training was provided. Rescue workers were exposed to high levels of hazardous materials including asbestos, benzene, dioxins, mercury and PCBs. Many of these workers were firefighters who may be forced to retire due to health related impacts from exposure.

    On February 11th, the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a public hearing in lower Manhattan on air quality issues at Ground Zero and the surrounding area. The recurring issues at this hearing were inadequacy of testing methods, particularly outside the perimeter of Ground Zero; need for better coordination and communication between the agencies conducting the testing and releasing information; extensive health concerns for workers on site at Ground Zero; and inadequacy of actions taken to protect the public from the hazards of pollutants released by the 11 week fire resulting from the attack.

    The Commission will continue to monitor developments at Ground Zero, particularly as they relate to environmental health and safety impacts for residents, workers and emergency response personnel. The Assembly will hold a follow-up public hearing on April 12, 2002.


    Assemblymember Colton continues his cooperative efforts with Assemblymember David Koon, Chair of the Legislative Commission on Toxic Substances and Hazardous Waste to finally close the loophole in the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regulations that allow the open burning of household garbage in towns with fewer than 20,000 population. The Assembly once again passed this legislation (A 7202-A Koon, Colton, Englebright, John, DiNapoli, Dinowitz, Espaillat, Hoyt et al) in 2001 and recently passed the bill in 2002. The Assembly bill sponsors have been working with Senator George Maziarz (Senate sponsor of S 3772-A) to achieve Senate action on the bill this year.

    Letters were sent to all Senators highlighting several important relevant issues. There are more than 850 towns in New York State with less than 20,000 population. Senators were provided with individual lists of the towns in their districts where open burning was still legal. There are more than 3.5 million people in these towns who may potentially be exposed to dangerous emissions from burn barrels. Secondly, there have been property damage insurance claims due to damages caused by household garbage burning. The Commission has been seeking to further quantify the insurance impacts of open burning of garbage.

    Photo Assemblymember Colton speaking at the press conference for the Environmental Health Tracking Act, which he co-sponsors with Assemblymember David Koon.

    As our readers know, the composition of household waste has changed significantly - increased volume of wastes produced by households and higher proportions of synthetic chemicals, particularly plastics from pack aging, has increased risks of open burning. In addition, incomplete combustion and low temperatures which are characteristic of burn barrels result in the formation of dioxins and furans. The 1998 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency dioxin inventory estimates that backyard burning of garbage contributes 20% of the dioxin emissions nationally.

    People located up to 1/2 mile away can be directly exposed to toxic pollutants from burn barrels.

    Children are particularly vulnerable because they eat, drink, breath and absorb more toxins in proportion to their body weight. The primary exposure Fire burning pathways from backyard burning of garbage are direct inhalation of volatile organics and particulates, ingestion of metals absorbed by plants, ingestion of contaminated soil by children, and ingestion of organochlorine compounds bioaccumulated in fatty tissues of animals. The acute or short term impacts from burn barrel emissions include respiratory distress and breathing difficulties. The chronic or long-term impacts include increased risk of asthma, emphysema and cancer.

    Now that the Assembly has acted this year, the Commission will work with the Senate to once and for all stop this unhealthy practice.

    The New York State Solid Waste
     4 Empire State Plaza, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12248
    Richard D. Morse, Executive Director
    Marilyn M. DuBois, Editor

    Recycling Arrows To further our efforts to reduce waste, please inform us if you have a change in address by calling us at (518) 455-3711, fax at (518) 455-3837 or write us at:
    The LCSWM, 4 Empire State Plaza, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12248