“Leaner, Not Necessarily Meaner”: A Fresh Look at the Proposed Changes to New York’s Part 360 Solid Waste Regulations

Author: John Brusa, P.E.

After many years of discussions, debate and suggested revisions, it looks like the long awaited changes to the New York State Part 360 Solid Waste Regulations are getting closer to a reality.  At the New York State Association for Solid Waste Management (NYSASWM) 2015 Fall Conference held on October 5th & 6th in Lake Placid, Robert Phaneuf of the NYSDEC presented a regulatory update which provided a glimpse of what may be included in the revised Part 360.

The intent of this blog is to provide you with a brief summary of where the New York State solid waste regulations may be headed. These changes to Part 360 described herein are my own understanding of what was presented at the NYSASWM conference. Please do not hold the NYSDEC presenter responsible for any opinions or statements that are included in this blog.  

Mr. Phaneuf used the term “leaner, not necessarily meaner” to describe the regulations. He provided a clarification that the number of pages in the revised solid waste regulations will actually be less than the current Part 360 regulations we know today.  He also indicated that the overall goal of the NYSDEC’s proposed changes is to update technical standards to be reflective of current knowledge and practice, address issues that have emerged since the last comprehensive revision to the regulations in 1993, streamline the regulations by elimination of duplication and clarification of regulatory criteria, and reduce regulatory requirements where possible without sacrificing environmental protections. He went on to express the hope that this will result in less prescriptive regulations that will allow for more flexibility in how project applicants can meet applicable environmental requirements, without the need for submittal of variance applications.

If you have been following the changes over the years, you know that a format change will occur. This is simply making a Part 360 “series” versus the Part 360-1, Part 360-2, etc. format that we are familiar with.  At this time, the proposed series is comprised of Part 360 General Provisions; Part 361 Materials Recovery Facilities; Part 362 Thermal Treatment, Processing, and Transfer Facilities; Part 363 Landfills; Part 364 Waste Transporters (as is currently the case); Part 365 Biohazard Waste Management Facilities; Part 366 Local Solid Waste Management Planning and Part 369 State Assistance Projects .  

Some new requirements and areas which are currently expected to receive more attention in the proposed regulations include:

  • Mulch processing facilities, which were previously exempt, will be faced with added restrictions on pile size and storage time for the purposes of improving control of fire, odor and dust.
  • C&D debris management will see an expanded use of tracking forms for C&D transport, impose a lower threshold for C&D disposal volume where a registration applies, add a new provision for enclosure of mixed C&D debris processing facilities, and require a permit rather than registration for C&D Debris Processing Facilities that receive 250 tons/day or greater of concrete, asphalt, rock, brick and soil (CARBS).
  • A requirement for fixed radiation monitors at facilities that handle MSW -- including landfills, combustion facilities, MSW composting facilities, processing facilities and transfer facilities that send waste out of state. For clarification, it is not the intent to have yard waste compost facilities require radiation monitors.   
  • Beneficial Use Determinations (BUDs) for Oil and Gas Brine will include provisions for use in road application (HVHF brine is excluded) and specific application criteria and maximum pollutant limits.
  • Recyclables Handling and Recovery Facilities that receive 250 tons/day or greater of recyclables will require a permit rather than a registration.
  • Disposal bans for source-separated recyclables, electronic waste, rechargeable batteries, mercury-containing products, and other product stewardship items.
  • Large scrap metal processors that store more than 500 cubic yards of metal will require a registration.
  • Active landfill gas collection will be required for new MSW landfills and subsequent development at existing MSW landfills. 
  • A new Part (Part 365) that consolidates existing criteria for regulated medical waste (RMW) and adds criteria for waste streams that are similar to RMW including: trauma scene waste, biohazard/bioterrorism waste, and animal and contaminated food supply waste.  

There are also some changes proposed specific to landfill permitting, design, construction and operation. These include:

  • Removal of the requirement for a landfill siting study.
  • Standardization of the geosynthetic clay liner component of the primary composite liner system without requiring an equivalency design demonstration; 
  • Requiring the secondary collection layer to include 12-inches of clean drainage sand. The structural fill layer will be eliminated. The secondary collection layer must be designed for removal of 1,000 gallons per acre per day, at a minimum.
  • Requiring electrical resistivity testing of both the primary and secondary geomembranes. 
  • An increase in the current maximum geomembrane destructive seam testing requirement, from the current 500-feet to 1,000-feet.
  • A reduction in the minimum thickness of the barrier protection layer above a final landfill cover system, from the current 24-inches to either 12-inches or 18-inches depending on vegetation selection.
  • Allowing the external waste slopes of a landfill cell to be constructed at greater than 33% during operation as long as slopes are not greater than 33% at closure. This requirement will be contingent on completion of an acceptable stability analyses.
  • Allowing up to 5 years before construction of a final cover system once a landfill cell has reached final grade.
  • More flexible financial assurance requirements for municipalities. 
  • Integrating the more common variances into the new regulations (e.g. the barrier protection layer mentioned above, 80 dBA equipment noise limit). 

Additional changes are also being proposed in the General Provisions (Part 360) in an effort to provide some regulatory relief. These include:

  • The addition of new pre-determined BUDs.
  • Reduced or streamlined reporting requirements to eliminate redundant or outdated information that is no longer useful.  The NYSDEC would like to eventually move to web-based reporting.
  • The addition of new facility exemptions and registrations to reduce permitting requirements.
  • Increasing the exemption for transportation of small loads from 500 to 2000 lbs.
  • Streamlining and reorganization of the Local Solid Waste Management Plan content and approval and update process. 
  • Establishing separate funding categories for capital projects and education/coordination to address a concern expressed by municipalities regarding the need for quicker and more stable funding of waste reduction and recycling education and coordination positions.

Organics management will continue to be a priority in the State; however, no organic diversion mandates are currently planned in the proposed regulations.  Specific to disposal of food scraps, there will be a focus on encouraging more food donation and to increase the number of organics recycling facilities.  The revised Part 360 regulations may include provisions to help ease the permitting of organics recycling facilities. Some additional organic management initiatives outside of the regulations include the current $40 million NYSERDA funding program for installing and operating Anaerobic Digester Gas (ADG)-to-Electricity Systems and the promotion of anaerobic digester construction at wastewater treatment plants and landfills by proposing and implementing changes to State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) regulations to streamline environmental review for these facilities.  There is also the possibility of creating a partnership between NYSDEC, NYSERDA, Empire State Development and the NYS Pollution Prevention Institute (P2I) to improve energy efficiency and reduce food waste of large generators by offering audits and capital funding for improvements.  An Executive Order may also be in the works to make State agencies lead by example on the organics front. This may include having State agencies (e.g.  SUNY and Department of Corrections) ramp up food donations and also making sure agencies (e.g. NYSDOT) utilize organic waste derived products in their projects to help provide a steady market outlet for such materials. 

When will these changes take effect?

The next question everyone will ask is……… when?  The next step in the process will be stakeholders meetings by the NYSDEC in late 2015 or early 2016 where they will be looking for feedback before issuing the draft regulations.  The overall goal would be to have the new regulations effective in late 2016 or early 2017. 

Please remember that the potential regulatory changes noted above are only proposed at this time and are subject to change.   Changes will still need to be vetted through the stakeholder process and SEQR process. Some of these changes may not be implemented and new changes may come forward. The NYSDEC will be looking for substantive comments at the upcoming meetings. So until then, start thinking about how these proposed changes may affect your solid waste system and think of anything else you may feel is important to comment on that could help enhance New York’s future solid waste regulations.