The Goal is to Phase Out Landfills

ALBANY: Val Washington, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Deputy Commissioner of the divisions of Solid and Hazardous Materials, Environmental Remediation and Mineral Resources, spoke at the July vegetarian/vegan lasanga dinner at the First Presbyterian Church. Beginning her speech with kind words about Save the Pine Bush, Val outlined her priorities for solid waste at the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Her priorities include going back to the basis of reduction, reuse, and recycling. She said the goal is to eliminate the use of landfills and incinerators for handling solid waste. She believes we must go back to the old, successful methods of taking care of solid waste — reduction, reuse and recycling.

She began by praising her boss, DEC Commissioner Peter Grannis, who is well known as an environmental advocate. Mr. Grannis’s positions include combating global warming, creating green, healthy, livable communities, and connecting New Yorkers to the outdoors.

However, if DEC is to be successful in taking a new direction in solid waste, the agency itself must “walk the walk”. At DEC, they are implementing new policies, such as recycling paper, defaulting to printing on two sides of the paper, using on-line forms instead of paper, and using ceramic mugs instead throw-aways.

Staff at DEC have tried “Zero-Waste” events, where excess food is composted, and attendees bring their own plates and utensils.

At the state level, new regulations may be implemented including banning source-separated materials from landfills, bringing back “buy New York recycling” programs, better assistance to local municipalities, comprehensive food-composting programs, amoung others.