Ulster County looks to begin zero-waste system


KINGSTON – Members of the Ulster County Legislature’s Energy and Environment Committee believe they are very close to being able to implement the beginnings of a zero-waste system across the county.

Zero-waste is a philosophy that ultimately means not sending anything to landfills. It utilizes composting, reusing materials, optimizing single products for multiple uses, and legislative measures, among others, to achieve this.

During a committee meeting Monday evening, members said they have been looking at currently implemented zero-waste systems in Santa Rosa, California and Boulder, Colorado. 

The county’s system would be a hybrid of the two, with some additions, including consumer education, manufacturing responsibility, expanding the use and availability of “repair cafés” and “buy nothing” trading groups.

The initial plan was created by the Recycling Oversight Committee and the final is expected to have approximately 12 different tenets. It is also intended to work within the county’s solid waste.

Energy and Environment Committee Chairwoman Manna Jo Greene said she thinks towns within the county are ready.

“We’re doing a lot of work with the municipalities. More and more municipalities are coming on board. I think we’re very close to achieving our goal of having every town in the county, at least, taking the pledge,” she said.

Greene added implementation could begin in the coming months.

“I think the bottom line is this is coming together,” said Greene. “The people we’ve reached out to are very pleased with the work that has been done and we’re going to find a way to make it concrete, tangible, implementable and we hope to do that within the next few months,” she said.

The Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency is currently sending its bio-solids to Rockland County for composting and has also received a grant for zero-waste education, beginning the initial shift to zero-waste for the county. 

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