Attorney General Cuomo Secures Agreement With Hempstead Sanitary District To Implement Improved Recycling Program

NEW YORK, NY (October 14, 2008) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an agreement requiring Hempstead’s Sanitary District 1 to implement an improved recycling program that will fully comply with New York State law. Sanitary District 1 was the last remaining District on Long Island that was not separately collecting recyclable materials and trash.

New York State requires all municipalities to separate recyclables from trash prior to their collection and processing. This “source separation” is intended to decrease waste, save waste disposal costs, and increase revenues from the sale of recycled materials. The Town of Hempstead’s Sanitary District 1 had never adopted such a recycling program. Instead, the District has collected and processed mixed waste at its own refuse processing facility, where it has been mechanically and manually sorted to reclaim recyclable materials.

“I am pleased that we have been able to resolve this long-standing dispute in a way that can both improve the environment and save taxpayer money for residents of the Town of Hempstead,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “By adopting an improved recycling program, the District can conserve energy, natural resources, and money.”

In 2006, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) refused to re-permit the Sanitary District’s refuse facility due to the absence of a source separation program. The Sanitary District then sued the Office of Attorney General and the DEC in Nassau County Supreme Court. The District argued that its existing program of removing recyclables from trash, post-collection, was sufficient under New York State law.

In August 2007, the Court sided with the Attorney General and the DEC, finding that State law requires the Sanitary District to operate a recycling program that includes source separation. After negotiations with the Attorney General and the DEC, the District adopted a recycling ordinance on July 24, 2008 that establishes source separation for newspaper, cardboard, mixed paper, glass, metal, aluminum, plastic containers, and yard waste.

The agreement announced by Cuomo today legally binds the Sanitary District to implement its new recycling ordinance within 120 days. The Sanitary District will distribute 18,000 new recyclables containers to residents and will continue to use its existing refuse processing facility to sort wastes and reclaim recyclables. The agreement also commits the District to conduct a public education campaign on the new ordinance and its environmental and cost-saving benefits. The addition of source separation to the District’s existing program is expected to substantially enhance the District’s recycling efforts.

Sanitary District 1 is one of five independent sanitary districts within the Town of Hempstead. It provides services to approximately 50,000 residents and commercial and institutional properties.

DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said, “Source separation and recycling programs are fundamental components to the reduction of solid waste requiring disposal. The outcome of the agreement announced today will help bring this Sanitary District into compliance with the state’s source separation requirements and will benefit the community by creating an increased awareness of the importance of recycling directly in residents’ homes.”

Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Sanitary District No. 1 Irving Kaminetsky said, “It is our strong belief that the District’s new enhanced recycling program, which will combine homeowner separation of recyclables with the continued operation of our Materials Recovery Facility, will enable the District to achieve the highest recycling rate in New York State. It is designed to maximize the recovery of revenue-producing materials and minimize the costs to our taxpayers.”

Citizens Campaign for the Environment Executive Director Adrienne Esposito said, “Local governments have a responsibility to provide meaningful programs for members of the public to participate in recycling. Effective recycling programs save energy, money and our environment. Bravo to Attorney General Cuomo for resolving this dispute, and ensuring that Sanitary Districts 1’s recycling program will benefit Long Island’s environment and our local economy.”

This case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Lisa Feiner and Andy Gershon, under the supervision of Special Deputy Attorney General for Environmental Protection Katherine Kennedy.