Ulster County is located in the Mid-Hudson Valley Region of New York State approximately 92 miles north of New York City, and 50 miles south of Albany. The County covers approximately 1,140 square miles. Today, the population is estimated at 181,791 based on 2012 Census.
There are 24 municipalities in the County: 3 villages, 1 city, and 20 towns. Historically, the municipalities of Ulster County were individually responsible for managing solid waste and recycling, and there was no coordinated county-wide system for materials management. In 1986, the Ulster County Legislature obtained authorization from the New York State Legislature for the creation of the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency (the "Agency"), a public benefit corporation which was formed for the purpose of developing, financing, and implementing a comprehensive county-wide materials management program.
The Agency manages solid waste consistent with the policies set forth in the New York State Solid Waste Management Plan. New York State has established solid waste management policy objectives under a “preferred hierarchy” that is generally described as follows (in order of descending preferences):
- First, to reduce the amount of waste generated within New York State.
- Second, to reuse material for the purpose for which it was originally intended or recycle material that cannot be reused (composting is considered a form of recycling).
- Third, to recover, in an environmentally acceptable manner, energy from solid waste that cannot be economically and technically reused or recycled.
- Fourth, to dispose of solid waste that is not being reused or recycled, or from which energy is not being recovered, by land burial or other methods approved by the NYSDEC.
The Agency is responsible for compliance with State and Federal laws, rules and regulations regarding the management and long-term obligations of closed solid waste management facilities and currently operating facilities under its direct control. The Agency’s responsibilities also include education and public outreach efforts to encourage, support, and foster participation by the public with respect to reducing, reusing, recycling and composting portions of the existing solid waste stream. Historically, the Agency’s materials management programs have relied on both public and private participation to manage a variety of waste streams and recyclable products. These efforts have resulted in the current recycling rate of 41 percent.
In sum, the mission of the Agency is to provide its constituency with a comprehensive program for managing solid waste, which is consistent with New York State’s Hierarchy for materials management, in an economically sound and environmentally safe manner.