Seeking to decrease the need for waste disposal services in and outside of state lines, New York touts a materials management hierarchy of reduction and reuse, followed by recycling, with the latter including composting. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation asserts that promoting the recycling of organic materials through “composting, anaerobic digestion, land application, and other organics recycling technologies” is highly important since pursuing these practices “reduces the generation of greenhouse gases; creates soil amendments, energy and jobs; and reduces reliance on waste disposal.”
NYS Composting Regulations
New York requires agricultural composters who accept any amount of food scraps from off-site to apply for a permit. In addition to the permit requirement, composters must adhere to specific performance standards, including methods of vector and pathogen reduction. Some non-food materials — including crop residues and animal manure, as well as no more than 3,000 cubic yards of yard trimmings per year — may be conditionally exempt from the permit requirement.
DEC Regulations and Enforcement Chapter IV – Quality Services, Subpart 360-5.3: “Composting Facilities – Exemptions and Registration” lists exemptions as:
(a) Exemptions. The following facilities are exempt from this Part provided the facility is operated in a manner that does not produce dust or odors that unreasonably impact on neighbors of the facility, as determined by the department, and no material accepted at the facility remains on-site unprocessed for more than 36 months.
(1) A composting facility that accepts crop residues, animal manure and associated bedding material. For purposes of this exemption bedding material includes hay, straw, sawdust, wood shavings, newsprint and materials approved for use pursuant to a department beneficial use determination issued in accordance with Subpart 360-15 of this Title.
(2) A composting facility that accepts no more than 3,000 cubic yards of yard waste, either processed or unprocessed, per year. This quantity does not include tree debris materials that are not intended for composting. For the purposes of Part 360 and this Subpart, precipitation, surface water, and groundwater that has come in contact with yard waste or the resultant compost is not considered leachate, however, it must be managed within the site and must not enter a surface waterbody, a conveyance to a surface waterbody, or cause a contravention of water quality standards.
(3) A composting facility that accepts a combination of wastes that would be exempt if operating individually for each type of waste, such as a composting facility that accepts no more than 3000 cubic yards of yard waste and accepts animal manure.
(4) A composting facility for animal mortalities if the facility is located on a farm and accepts no more than 10 animals per year, or is located on a CAFO, provided the CAFO is permitted pursuant to Part 750 of this Title and has a CNMP. For facilities that are not permitted pursuant to Part 750 of this Title, the mortality must be placed within a compost pile on the day received.
Although New York requires certain facilities to register, some may still be exempt from applying for a permit as outlined below:
(1) Eligible facilities. The following solid waste management facilities are eligible for the registration provisions of section 360-1.8(h) of this Part, provided the facility complies with section 360-1.8(h) of this Part and paragraph (2) of this subdivision. Any eligible or registered facility which is not operated in compliance with these conditions requires a permit pursuant to this Part and will be subject to applicable enforcement provisions in this Part and the Environmental Conservation Law, article 70.
(i) A composting facility that accepts more than 3,000 cubic yards but not more than 10,000 cubic yards of yard waste per year. This quantity limit does not include tree debris materials that are not intended for composting.
(ii) A composting facility that accepts no more than 1,000 cubic yards of source-separated organic waste per year.
(iii) A composting facility for food processing waste.
(iv) An organics processing facility for animal mortalities or parts generated from a farm, slaughterhouse, butcher, or other generator.
(v) A composting facility for the dewatered solids from an AD subject to registration under paragraph (3) of this subdivision.
(2) Operational criteria. A registered facility must be constructed and operated in compliance with the following conditions:
(i) material accepted does not remain on-site for more than 36 months;
(ii) the process uses acceptable amendments or bulking agents and follows an acceptable method of composting that minimizes odor generation and results in a mature product;
(iii) the facility is constructed to minimize any ponding on the composting area; and
(iv) the facility is at least 200 feet from the nearest surface water body, potable water well, and residence or place of business, excluding the generating business and any residence or place of business built after the facility began operation. This separation distance requirements may be increased to 500 feet in densely populated or otherwise sensitive areas, as determined by the department.
Composters who do not qualify for exemption or registration must submit an application for a permit, which includes detailed information such as: a map of the facility, drainage characteristics, processing and storage areas, a description of access roads, pre-processing and post-processing methods, and dimensions of the windrows. New York regulations also specify that applications describe the point of generation of the food scraps accepted, as well as outline a plan to reduce pathogenic organism content, among other requirements.
Summary table from NYS Dept. of Env. Conservation website, last accessed May 2016.
- New York Organic Waste Facility Regulations (Chapter 4 – Quality Services, Subpart 360-5: Composting Facilities)
- Map of New York State’s Compost Facilities from Cornell’s Waste Management Institute
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation – Composting & Organic Materials Management
Original post from July 30, 2012
Updated August 25, 2016