Don't expect a plastic waste deal


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Apr 20, 2023

Don't expect a plastic waste deal



06/01/2023 07:15 AM EDT

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A man leaves a supermarket in Manhattan carrying his groceries in a plastic bag in March 2019. | AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

A holy grail for reducing plastic waste remains elusive in New York as lawmakers close in on the final week of the legislative session.

With leaders indicating little interest in tackling any more big issues — except perhaps the Clean Slate Act — the prospect of passing a major measure to reduce packaging waste is slim.

For years, environmental advocates have pushed the concept of "extended producer responsibility." This means the makers and sellers of goods that get dropped at your front door or plucked off the supermarket shelf bear the costs of disposing the cardboard or plastic you wishfully toss into the recycling bin and the trash.

While Gov. Kathy Hochul and Democrats in the state senate backed versions of the measure in the budget, Assembly Democrats pushed to defer the issue.

The new chairs of the Environmental Conservation committees and their staff in both chambers have been working feverishly — including over Memorial Day weekend — and a new version of the bill is expected to drop soon. Sen. Peter Harckham (D-Westchester County) confirmed the measure is at "pens down" and will be revealed in a matter of days.

"It's a short amount of time to build consensus around," he said. "We feel optimistic with the work product… There are five days of session left, that can be a lot of time."

Still, it is a tight window for a complex issue that's been the subject of a virtual lobbying bonanza.

"We’ve worked on it for several years, but in the last three there's been an intense amount of work on this," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "It's frustrating and causes a lot of anxiety to see all of this come down to a few days."

The plastic, forestry and paper industries, as well as makers of consumer goods, have raised concerns about the proposal, which also mandates reductions in the amount of packaging used.

Meanwhile, the American Chemistry Council has been pushing to allow the use of "advanced recycling," such as pyrolysis, where plastic materials are heated to high temperatures to produce fuel and other byproducts.

But the bill is expected to limit the use of "chemical recycling" to meet those packaging reduction goals — a redline issue for some environmentalists.

"We understand that the plastic industry and chemical industry is very focused on not just continuing, but expanding their operations. We don't think this bill is a vehicle for creating more plastic that we don't have an ability to dispose of, or to increase toxic waste," Assemblymember Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan) said.


WHERE’S KATHY? In New York City, joining the Simons Foundation and Stony Brook University for a Historic Endowment Gift Announcement.

WHERE’S ERIC? In New York City, touring the facilities of Rosco, a Queens manufacturing and engineering company. Then, he will make an announcement with Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden. Later, he will deliver remarks at an affordable housing event and appear on ABC's "GMA3." Next, he will meet with Macquarie Group CEO Shemara Wikramanayake and receive an award at the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation's annual gala. Finally, he will deliver remarks at the Neighborhood Technical Assistance Clinic's annual gala.

CORRECTION: Wednesday's Playbook gave the wrong fine structure for the mandate to separate yard waste. It has since been updated.

A message from ConEd:

The road to a cleaner New York starts now. A new transmission line will carry enough energy to power over 200,000 homes and enable the city to retire fossil fuel peaker plants in Queens. It's going to take all of us to make our clean energy future a reality and Con Edison is committed to doing its part. Learn more.

OFFICE VALUES DROP: The city is adjusting its revenue forecasts to account for an anticipated decline of more than 10 percent in the market values of office buildings, which contribute a significant share of the city's property tax base — but are struggling with record vacancies amid widespread hybrid work.

Office market values are projected to drop by 10 percent in fiscal year 2025, and by an additional 2 percent in the subsequent two years, Budget Director Jacques Jiha said at a Citizens Budget Commission event Wednesday. He noted the property tax roll for the upcoming fiscal year is based on calendar year 2021 income and expense data from the properties.

"So there's a lag," Jiha said. "All current conditions will be reflected in upcoming valuations down the road." — Janaki Chadha and Joe Anuta

ENERGY FIGHT: Advocates are making a final push for the NY Home Energy Affordable Transition (NY HEAT) Act, which would align utility regulation with state climate regulations. It would also cap utility bills for low-income households.

Better Buildings NY, a coalition that includes the Natural Resources Defense Council and WE ACT for Environmental Justice, said it will spend "five figures" on digital advertising to call for its passage as the legislative session winds down. Win Climate also made a digital ad buy that specifically targets Assemblymembers Ken Zebrowski and Didi Barrett.

The bill's prospects are currently looking grim. — Danielle Muoio Dunn and Marie J. French

GETTING SMART: New York will host this year's Smart City Expo USA, a two-day event that will focus on how to build more sustainable cities. Participants in the October summit are expected to discuss topics like access to quality and affordable transportation, infrastructure and housing.

The city will co-host the event with Barcelona's trade fair institution, Fira de Barcelona, and the Smart City Expo World Congress. — Danielle Muoio Dunn

DON’T MISS POLITICO’S HEALTH CARE SUMMIT: The Covid-19 pandemic helped spur innovation in health care, from the wide adoption of telemedicine, health apps and online pharmacies to mRNA vaccines. But what will the next health care innovations look like? Join POLITICO on Wednesday June 7 for our Health Care Summit to explore how tech and innovation are transforming care and the challenges ahead for access and delivery in the United States. REGISTER NOW.

Late budget possible as rift grows between mayor, Council, by POLITICO's Joe Anuta: The Adams administration brought up the specter of a late city budget Wednesday — a rarity in New York City compared to the frequent tardy spending plans from Albany over the years.

— THE CITY and Spectrum News created an interactive guide to help you get to know your City Council district.

"City Council Member Ari Kagan's website was taken over by porn for two years," by City & State's Jeff Coltin: "The Internet Archive, which saves webpages, suggests that was a porn site for the past two years, from May 2021 until May 12, 2023, when the domain expired. It's now a dead link. But from 2012 to 2019, that was Kagan's personal website linking to his work as both a journalist and a Democratic district leader."

"NYC transit union approves contract, securing pay bump," by WNYC's Clayton Guse and Phil Corso: "Transport Workers Union Local 100 have approved a tentative contract with the MTA, giving roughly 40,000 New York City transit workers a pay bump of nearly 10% over the next three years."

A message from ConEd:

"Seventeen Friends, a Limo Crash and an FBI Informant: The Case That Rocked Upstate New York," by Wall Street Journal's Jimmy Vielkind: "The man who rented out the limousine involved in one of the state's deadliest recent vehicle crashes was sentenced Wednesday to between five and 15 years in prison, capping a yearslong legal battle that has captivated upstate New York."

"New York Mandates Peer Support in Jails, But Lets Sheriffs Keep Peers Out," by New York Focus’ Spencer Norris: "Without any supervision from the state, county jails are mostly calling their own shots on how to comply with the law. When peers do get access to jails, experts told New York Focus, it's normally under very limited circumstances: a one-hour support group once a week, or a single meeting for reentry planning when incarcerated people are on their way out the door."

"2 NY Chief Judges Failed To Report Income But Only 1 Fixed It," by Law360's Frank Runyeon

"‘Lobbying loophole’ bill stuck in Assembly in final week of legislative session," by Times Union's Joshua Solomon

GET READY FOR GLOBAL TECH DAY: Join POLITICO Live as we launch our first Global Tech Day alongside London Tech Week on Thursday, June 15. Register now for continuing updates and to be a part of this momentous and program-packed day! From the blockchain, to AI, and autonomous vehicles, technology is changing how power is exercised around the world, so who will write the rules? REGISTER HERE.

— Stony Brook University just got an eye-popping $500 million donation, The New York Times reports.

— Meta will shrink its New York City workforce after a round of layoffs.

— Curbed: "The Merely Wealthy Can No Longer Afford West 11th Street"

— Affordable housing construction has declined significantly in the city over the last several years.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Matt Winkler … FT's Ed Luce … CBS’ Olivia Gazis … NBC's Alex Seitz-Wald … AP's Bill Barrow … Insider's Benjamin Nigh … Heath Knakmuhs of the U.S. Chamber (5-0) … Dan Tannebaum (4-0) … Constance Boozer … (was Wednesday): Jeffrey Steingarten ... Matthew Levine

MEDIAWATCH — Joseph Schatt is now an editorial producer at Newsmax. He most recently was an assignment editor in local news and is a CNN alum.

A message from ConEd:

Con Edison is preparing today for a cleaner tomorrow. New York's energy future will require modernizing the city's infrastructure to keep up with demand and ensure reliability. That's why Con Edison is upgrading substations, building new transmission lines, and creating clean energy hubs, helping to deliver renewable energy citywide for years to come. Learn More.

"Tenants Take Over Bronx and Brooklyn Housing Courts, Protesting Lack of Lawyers," by THE CITY's Sam Rabiyah and Jonathan Custodio: "The tactic was a way to escalate their demand that New York City live up to its new Right to Counsel law, which aimed to ensure free attorneys for all low-income tenants facing eviction."

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