NYC’s Proposed New Commercial Recycling Regulations – What To Expect

recycling grunge sign
Photographer: Nicolas Raymond, cc

New York City has proposed new commercial recycling regulations to go into effect July 1, 2016.

While there will likely be some changes as the proposed rule is written, commercial buildings can expect:

  • Few major changes to their established recycling program
  • Little impact to their building operations/businesses

Great Forest has submitted feedback to the city on these proposed changes and will keep clients updated on what the final regulations will look like.

* NOTE: Once the law is passed, Great Forest will review with all our clients to ensure compliance and clarity, and to answer any questions and concerns.

Proposed changes

ALL commercial businesses must separate ALL recyclables (cardboard and mixed paper, and glass/metal/plastic) from trash.
Currently only food establishments must separate cardboard and glass/metal/plastic from trash; while all other commercial businesses need only separate cardboard and mixed paper. The new law eliminates that distinction between business types, requiring all businesses to follow the same procedures.

Commercial recycling expands to accept rigid plastics.
Currently, only NYC residential recycling accepts rigid plastics. Under the proposed new regulations, commercial recycling will expand to include all rigid plastics (coffee cup lids, plastic clam shells, etc.). NOTE: Still NOT accepted: Plastic film and plastic bags, which are covered under the plastic bag recycling law.

New terminology: Co-collection and single-stream.

  • Co-collection is what is currently happening with your private carter. It means that recyclables (mixed paper and cardboard, and glass/metal/plastic) must still be source separated into two streams, but can be taken into the same truck. Once this truck gets to a material recovery facility (MRF), the bags of mixed paper and cardboard, and the bags of glass/metal/plastic are then further sorted.
  • Single-stream means that all recyclables can be placed together in the same bag. The recycling comingles all mixed paper, cardboard, and glass/metals/plastics.

Signage requirements, additional bins
The new rules may have requirements for posting additional recycling signage and may require recycling bins in common spaces.


Sign up for "3 to Zero (Waste)." Get 3 tips each month + insights.