FAQ – NYC Recycling Regulations


1. What are the recycling rules that businesses need to adhere to in New York City?

There are rules that businesses in NYC need to follow in order to solve the waste crisis.

The rules cover: (i)Waste and recycling law        (ii)Organics law

Commercial organics law:

Any covered establishment that violates the law will be penalized and be required to pay between $250 and $1000 per fine.

Waste and recycling law requires all businesses to separate and recycle

  • Metal, glass and plastic – soup cans, pet food containers, empty paint cans, empty aerosol cans, aluminum foil trays, metal bulk waste including furniture
  • Paper & Cardboard
  • Construction Waste


2. Does my business still have time to comply or are the rules already in effect?

The rules have gone into effect; this means that your business is required to comply to avoid the following fines:

For the recycling and waste law:

*$100 (first offense)

*$200 (second offense)

*$400 (third offense)


3. My business generates textile waste. I’m I required to recycle them given the amount of textile waste we generate monthly?

If 10% of your waste in a month is textiles; you are required to separate them from waste and recycle them to avoid fines.


4. What can businesses do to gain compliance and stay in compliance to avoid fines?

The first step is to read the laws to see if you are affected. Then have a discussion with your property management and cleaning supervisor.

Contact Green Forevermore Environmental. It is important to work with a waste specialist/sustainability officer so that your waste and recycling can be examined and separation practices can be revisited and improved upon. An excellent way to do this is to conduct a waste audit. Green Forevermore Environmental can help conduct your waste audit.

Waste audit:

A waste audit is of crucial importance because it analyses your facility’s waste stream and costs associated with waste removal. The waste audit will also assess how much of each material type is recovered for recycling or disposed of as garbage.  Work plans that will help reduce your waste and save you money are also developed based on the results of the waste audit.


5. I am a business owner. How much will compliance cost?

Although there is no fixed cost; costs may be somewhat low. This also depends on several factors such as size of your building and waste hauler. Costs usually go into buying appropriate bins for your program and recycling / waste signs.

Those required to comply with organics law would have to carefully look at the organics processing options to see which works for them:

  • Hire a private carter
  • Transport the material themselves
  • Process the material onsite by composting or anaerobic / aerobic digestion. Food waste grinder not permitted but a machine such as an orca can be used to process food. An orca is a machine that transforms food waste into environmentally safe water that flows through the sewage system.

The ORCA is a machine that “digests” up to 2,400 pounds (over 1 ton) of food waste per day. Within 24 hours, this technology turns food waste into environmentally safe water that flows straight into the municipal sewage system.


6. Does the organics law affect all businesses?

No. The following businesses are required to separate their organics from waste:

  • Arenas and Stadiums – 15,000 or more seats
  • Food manufacturers with floor area of 25,000 sq. ft or more
  • Food wholesalers with floor area of 20,000 sq. ft or more
  • Food establishment in Hotels with 150 rooms or more. The food establishment should be under the control of the hotel and its waste should be collected by the hotel’s private waste hauler.

Learn more


7.  I was told that there’s not much difference between the waste & recycling law and the organic law. Are there any differences?

The new waste and recycling law requires all businesses to separate all recyclables including plastic, metal, glass, mixed paper and cardboard from garbage while the organics law requires specific businesses to handle food waste efficiently by sorting and processing (aerobic or anaerobic digestion and composting) them.