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LI pols: Shift recycling costs from local governments to packaging producers

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) at Molloy

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) at Molloy College in Rockville Centre on Jan. 7, 2019. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa Loarca

ALBANY — Producers of plastic, cardboard and paper packaging would have to help cover the costs of municipal recycling programs, under a bill proposed by two Long Island legislators.

With recycling markets changing, municipalities too often are socked with the costs of curbside recycling and left with no place to sell the materials, Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) and Assemb. Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) said.

Modeled on recycling laws in Canada and elsewhere, their bill would shift at least a portion of recycling costs away from local governments. It would force companies to help fund what happens with packaging — much the way producers of tires, batteries and paint already do in New York, the lawmakers say. They call it "extended producer responsibility."

"We are facing a recycling crisis in our country, and it is essential for government to step up to the plate, mitigate waste and save taxpayer money — and that is precisely what my extended producer responsibility legislation will do," Kaminsky said.

The legislators say they want to make this a top environmental priority for the 2021 state legislative session, which began Wednesday and ends in June.

They released a list of a slew of environmental groups that support the legislation, as well as the New York State Association of Counties, which send the measure could help local governments offset the "financial burden" of mandatory recycling.

"Counties support this proposal to modernize New York state’s recycling system, keep waste out of landfills, and create green jobs," Stephen Acquario, NYSAC executive director, said in a statement.

The legislators said the bill would create incentives for companies — such as, say, orange juice, milk and paper producers — to form groups to fund recycling costs. Helping pay for recycling would be less costly than not participating, the legislators said.

Asked about companies then raising consumer prices, Kaminsky said similar programs in Canada show the increase to be "infinitesimal, not anything anyone would notice."

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