Syracuse University, SUNY-ESF Team Up to Establish New York State Center for Sustainable Materials Management

 Syracuse University, SUNY-ESF Team Up to Establish New York State Center for Sustainable Materials

September 14, 2020

Syracuse University and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) are collaborating to establish the New York State Center for Sustainable Materials Management (SMM), funded by a $5.75 million grant over five years from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC).

The center—the first of its kind in the United States—will be devoted to practices in waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting.

It will focus on six specific areas: community engagement, outreach, policy development, public education, research and technical assistance with the intention of:

  • promoting waste prevention and reduction—particularly packaging reduction and product stewardship;
  • encouraging closed-loop, responsible purchasing;
  • developing economic markets for recyclables, fostering entrepreneurship and helping convert manufacturing to use recycling feedstock;
  • launching a comprehensive community outreach and public education campaign, and facilitating additional stakeholder engagement;
  • identifying new methods to manage non-recyclable fibrous materials through the development of composting options; and
  • identifying new methods to manage non-recyclable fibrous materials through the development of unique conversion options.

Syracuse University’s Center for Sustainable Community Solutions (SU-CSCS) is receiving a $1 million sub-award from SUNY-ESF to conduct statewide outreach and education, including expanding and developing a new version of the Recycle Right NY outreach campaign. This campaign will prioritize reduction of wasted materials, promote reuse and repair, improve the quality of recyclables collected, increase the rate of recyclables captured, and grow the demand for recycled products.

As part of this initiative, SU-CSCS will create informational and compelling resources such as graphics, videos, digital tools and a new website for the Recycle Right NY campaign, along with other educational and outreach activities. The website will serve as a hub of information and resources for waste reduction and recycling across the state.

“This interdisciplinary initiative brings together three great partners. By bringing our different areas of expertise together, we can reduce waste and help make this a model for other states to follow,” said Dean J. Cole Smith from the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

“This is a fantastic partnership of SUNY-ESF, Syracuse University and New York State that will leverage our strengths to advance sustainable materials management by increasing recycling participation, enhancing the quality of materials collected, developing new sustainable materials and, most importantly, reducing the amount of waste generated,” says SU-CSCS Assistant Director Melissa Young. “Our team will engage key stakeholders to work with us on rethinking and reimagining ways to strengthen our economy and environment through waste reduction and recycling.”

Syracuse University’s Center for Sustainable Community Solutions has been working for more than a decade on programs related to educating, engaging and empowering communities to deliver sustainable materials management solutions to limit reliance on landfilling or incineration. The center has been working primarily with communities throughout New York and Puerto Rico, but has also been part of national and global programs to help with the sustainable management of materials.