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State to establish Center for Sustainable Materials Management at ESF

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has appointed four new members to the board of trustees of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. They include William Fisher, Rick Fedrizzi, Linda Brown-Robinson, and John Bartow. (Eric Reinhardt / BJNN file photo)

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse is involved in a five-year, $5.75 million partnership with the state to establish the New York State Center for Sustainable Materials Management at ESF.

The investment will help develop a plan to improve recycling and address market-access challenges for recyclable materials. Local-government recyclers are currently dealing with decreased recycling revenues and increased costs due to the lack of market access for collected materials, the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a Wednesday news release.

ESF is working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on the project. ESF is among the SUNY schools that are working with the state on ideas for solid-waste management and recycling.


Cuomo on Wednesday announced new academic collaborations with ESF, the University at Buffalo, and Stony Brook University. The collaborations will focus on “innovative strategies to improve recycling and waste reduction to simultaneously strengthen New York’s economy and protect the environment,” Cuomo’s office said.

ESF role

Besides the recycling and market-access improvement plan, ESF’s work will also focus on waste prevention and reduction, as well as a community outreach and public-education campaign with direct stakeholder engagement led by its partner, Syracuse University.

Other projects include the research and development of recycling alternatives for “non-recyclable fibrous materials” such as lower grade paper, including composting and conversion options.

“This center will help reduce waste and reinvigorate the state’s recycling industry,” Joseph Rufo, officer-in-charge at ESF, said. “As part of this effort, ESF will serve as a convener for a variety of related state-wide initiatives with efforts that are destined to be economic engines, creating far more jobs than landfills. A variety of ESF faculty, staff, and students will work hand-in-glove with the DEC, other SUNY campuses, Syracuse University, and other partners statewide. Ultimately, the goal is to transition this state Center into a national center when the time is right.”

Recycling market “volatility”

Recycling markets are currently having “unprecedented volatility” due in part to tightening import restrictions in Asia. As a result, some U.S. recycling operations are struggling to find suitable markets for material, impacting local solid-waste recycling efforts. The DEC is working with key stakeholders and municipalities to strategize how New York can bolster new markets and help municipalities address these challenges and build capacity in the state and northeast region.

A total of $11.9 million from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) will support three SUNY institutions working with DEC on a series of recycling initiatives that will help municipalities and businesses streamline the recycling process, lower costs, improve public-outreach strategies, and protect the environment.


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