New York business groups and environmental advocates are pushing back on Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan to require businesses like Inc., 3M Co., and Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. to reduce and pay for the disposal of paper and packaging products. Environmentalists say the plan doesn’t go far enough, and the complex issue should be handled outside of the state budget process. Meanwhile, state business leaders want a greater role to create a less burdensome program, and warn of increased costs associated with shifting municipal and private waste management onto producers.

Hochul (D) in her $227 billion budget proposal called for a “Waste Reduction and Infrastructure Act,” which would cover everything from plastic wrap to Post-it notes and require producers to recycle or dispose of what they produce. The proposal aims to save local governments and ultimately taxpayer dollars, while pushing businesses to re-think the sustainability of their packaging materials as home delivery ramped up during the pandemic. Producers would be required to achieve a recovery rate of 35%, for example taking back their old boxes, and a recycling rate of 25% for all covered materials by 2029. They also would have to reduce packaging materials by 15% by 2034.

New York would follow California, Oregon, Maine, and Colorado, which have passed similar waste management laws for producers. A coalition of up to 100 companies and business groups contend waste management and recycling services are a shared responsibility and called on Hochul and the legislature to create a program to provide infrastructure funding for the effort.

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Author: Keshia Clukey, Bloomberg Law
Image: Michael Nagle, Bloomberg Law