MATERIALS Working Group
The 13 members of the Materials Management Working Group included representatives from county Planning Units, municipalities, private companies, academia, and NYSDEC. Further regional focus was brought to the group by representatives from DANC, Casella Waste Management, and educational institutions, including the Cornell Cooperative Extension and Lake Placid High School (Essex County). The Working Group drew upon NYSDEC and its statewide Beyond Waste strategy to establish goals for waste management in the region. Early on, the group chose to adopt the vision of “Materials Management,” through which unwanted materials are treated as a resource with the potential to be transformed into a valuable commodity, suitable to feed a recycled materials market or be transformed into energy or organic-rich material. Typical waste and materials management practices throughout the region were evaluated to determine appropriate strategies for materials management that would be economically viable while also providing the opportu• nity to reduce associated GHG emissions. The vision of transforming waste into a resource was supported by residents and regional stakeholders, who convened • at one or more public events held during this project’s planning process and showed great interest in promoting opportunities for materials recovery, reuse and • recycling, energy generation, and composting projects.
Statewide estimates of the organic content of MSW are 30% (NYSDEC 2010a). In a solid waste composition study conducted in 2010 for Jefferson, St. Lawrence, and Lewis counties, organic material made up 37% of the MSW waste stream (SCS 2011). Benefits exist from the reduction or elimination of organics from the waste stream, including significantly reduced volumes of disposed MSW, extended design life of existing landfills, and reduced GHG emissions in new/active landfills. Market opportunities for organic materials include locally produced mulch and fertilizers, and energy generation from anaerobic digesters.
Barriers Barriers are ubiquitous in the materials management sector, ranging from changing the behavior of materials generators to encouraging capital investment in organics management infrastructure and markets for post-consumer organic products. Barriers specific to the North Country region include:
Insufficient public education, including the large seasonal/tourist population, on the appropriate methods of separating organics and food waste from the disposal stream. Wildlife concerns, which can constrain backyard composting of food residuals, particularly in areas contiguous to animal habitats. Temperature constraints, low ambient temperatures during winter months reduce the rate of decomposition, particularly for outdoor and small-scale composting methods. • Lack of sufficient and consistent organic materials streams to support a self-sustaining organics recycling industry. • Lack of local laws/zoning/regulations that incorporate the siting and operation of local organics management facilities such as transfer stations, digesters, and composting piles.
North Country Region Sustainability Plan