Stony Brook University is one New York school receiving funding to research recycling-related topics. | Steve Cukrov/Shutterstock

The state of New York will inject nearly $12 million into academia to study and improve the recycling system. 

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will provide $11.9 million from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund to three State University of New York (SUNY) institutions. 

“With ongoing changes to worldwide recycling markets threatening our efforts to reduce waste and protect our resources, this new collaboration will tackle these challenges head-on and will help ensure New York’s legacy of environmental stewardship continues,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated in a press release. “We are working closely with some of our best academic institutions to develop strategies that will help make a cleaner, greener Empire State for all.”  

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

DEC will provide $5.75 million to SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, which is located in Syracuse, N.Y.

The money will be used to establish the New York State Center for Sustainable Materials Management, the first of its kind in the U.S., according to a university press release. The center will focus on waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting. 

From that grant award, $1 million will be sent to Syracuse University to conduct statewide recycling outreach and education.

Stony Brook University

DEC will also provide $4.2 million to Stony Brook University on Long Island for a number of recycling projects.

The money will fund research into how recyclables and garbage are processed at existing materials recovery facilities (MRFs). Additionally, researchers will work on an economic analysis tool for municipalities to determine the cost of recycling programs, conduct case studies on single-stream collection and sorting, and analyze first-order recycling and the circular economy, according to the governor’s office release. 

University at Buffalo RENEW Institute

Lastly, DEC awarded a $1.9 million grant to the University at Buffalo’s RENEW Institute. The Research and Education in eNergy, Environment and Water (RENEW) Institute has been working on a multidisciplinary study of the plastics recycling industry. 

According to a press release from the university, the money will fund a couple of different efforts: Examining recycling markets, infrastructure and contamination, as well as developing policy options for state leaders. Secondly, the money will fund the use of human behavioral science and outreach and education initiatives to decrease contamination.

A version of this story appeared in Resource Recycling on Sept. 22.

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