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New York State Solid Waste Regulations

Authored by Chad Hutton | July 1, 2024

Barton & Loguidice’s Solid Waste Practice Area continues to follow the regulatory happenings that may affect our clients. Efforts are being made in New York State to manage perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which may also be identified as Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). Some of these lab-made chemicals have been in commercial use since the 1940s. So what is being done about them?

We have just returned from the Federation of New York Solid Waste Associations Conference & Tradeshow. Much of what we plan to share was presented by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) during the plenary session on the show’s first day. NYSDEC leaders provided an overview of the following specific topics that were focused on emerging contaminants and the waste industry:

  • Recycling of Biosolids
  • MSW Landfill Leachate Rulemaking
  • Pollution Prevention

Recycling of Biosolids

Biosolids are one of those waste streams that bridge between agricultural, wastewater, and solid waste regulations. If you are not familiar with what biosolids are – they are typically the solid residue after sewage is treated and the majority of liquids are separated. The wastewater operators then are required to find a location for these solids to go. Recent concerns over the presence of emerging contaminants in the form of PFOA and PFOS in biosolids have caused the State to take a closer look at land applications. Of the 600 water resource recovery facilities (WRRF) in New York State, about 100 actually recycle their biosolids.

Recent data provided by the NYSDEC indicates landfilling continues to be the most popular biosolids management method, with an estimated 68% of biosolids produced annually going to solid waste landfills. In an effort to encourage and increase the recycling of biosolids, the NYSDEC is funding research at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) to analyze and sample biosolids to determine if there is a risk associated with emerging contaminants in the biosolids.

Following this assessment, the NYSDEC is expected to set requirements for the pretreatment of industrial sources. Preliminarily the proposed requirements are as follows:

  • < 20 ppb PFOA or PFOS: no restriction on recycling
  • 20 – 50 ppb: Additional Sampling; Restrict recycling after 1 year if not below 20ppb
  • > 50 ppb: Restrict recycling until below 20ppb

B&L continues to work with our solid waste and water resource clients to find the most cost-effective and environmentally protective management method for biosolids. Please contact us if you would like to learn more.

MSW Landfill Leachate Rulemaking

If you have been in the industry over the last few years, you have definitely heard rumblings associated with the NYSDEC’s proposal to require leachate treatment at landfills.  Initially, it was discussed that all leachate would need to be managed on-site at the solid waste facility, and no leachate would be able to be transported or conveyed off-site. More recently the NYSDEC has indicated that they would more likely require MSW landfill leachate to be treated prior to being discharged to a WRRF or a SPDES discharge point. Stakeholder meetings have been held to gain feedback and ideas, which were also followed by many various industry associations submitting comments on the proposed leachate management requirements. The NYSDEC intends to release a proposed rulemaking later this year that would focus on possible adjustments to 6 NYCRR Parts 360 and 363. Possible components of these changes include:

  • Leachate treatment may occur at the generating landfill or at an offsite location;
  • Locations that treat leachate must be permitted under Part 360 Series as a leachate treatment facility;
  • Treatment methods will not be specified; instead, minimum performance and contaminant removal requirements will likely be specified; and
  • These changes would apply to all operating landfills at the time of adoption, with built-in timeframes for planning, design, testing, and construction of treatment facilities.

This proposed rulemaking could significantly change the way landfills and leachate are managed in New York State. B&L will monitor this proposal closely and provide an update in the coming months. In the meantime, we are happy to discuss the implications and possible solutions with you now.

New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation has federal grant opportunities through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law available for planning, design, and construction of capital projects that address emerging contaminants and protect water quality.

Pollution Prevention

With all this talk about emerging contaminants, we have to ask ourselves, “Who is preventing these products from entering our system before they become the responsibility of a passive receiver like a landfill or WWRF?” Thankfully, New York is trying to stop PFAS from entering the waste stream through legislative prohibitions on the sale of products containing PFAS. Most recently, the following laws were passed and will become effective in the near term:

  • PFAS in Food Packaging Law (effective 12/31/22)
  • PFAS in Apparel Law (effective 1/1/25)
  • PFAS restrictions under Carpet Collection Law (effective 12/31/26)

This is a start, but more needs to be done on both the federal and state levels to prevent these materials from entering our waste system. Landfills and WRRF should be considered passive receivers and should not be the ones having to manage dangerous products that they did not produce. B&L, through our association memberships, will continue to stay informed on these critical threats to our industry. For more information, reach out to B&L’s Solid Waste Professional, Chad Hutton.