Introduction

The draft 2010-2020 Massachusetts Solid Waste Master Plan sets goals of reducing the quantity of waste disposed of by 30 percent (2 million tons) by 2020, and by 80 percent (5.2 million tons) by 2050. The Master Plan also sets a sub-goal for 2020 of diverting an additional 350,000 tons of organic material from disposal by that year, over the 650,000 tons that were diverted in 2009. Meeting this goal will require significant increases in in-state capacity at anaerobic digestion, composting, and recycling facilities.

These aggressive targets are consistent with the recently released Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2020. Achieving the goals of both of these plans will produce important environmental benefits.  An expansion of in-state recycling/processing capacity will also create jobs and economic development opportunities.  Expanding in-state capacity to process diverted organic material will have important co-benefits for Massachusetts farms and will help anaerobic digesters at Massachusetts wastewater treatment plants operate more efficiently and economically.  

Task Force Charge

  • Review and update the list of barriers to advancing anaerobic digestion, composting and recycling capacity in Massachusetts and the list of opportunities for advancing this capacity that were identified by Solid Waste Master Plan discussion groups in Spring 2009.
  • Develop guiding implementation principles to ensure that a) there is appropriate public participation in the siting process, and b) facilities are designed, constructed, and operated in a manner which protects public health and the environment.
  • Recommend specific actions that can be undertaken to overcome these barriers and take advantage of these opportunities, and identify the entities that should be charged with implementation.

The Task Force recommendations will identify what needs to be done, who needs to do it, and how each action should be structured.  As the appropriate state agencies implement these recommendations, participants are strongly encouraged to continue to stay involved and provide review and advice.

Background

During the past two years, MassDEP has held a number of discussions on these issues, including Organics Summit conference sessions, three Solid Waste Master Plan workgroup meetings on "Eliminating Barriers to Siting Waste Diversion Facilities," and public comment on the Draft Solid Waste Master Plan. While there was considerable support at these meetings for increasing in-state capacity to handle organic material that is diverted from the waste stream, many concerns were identified. See a summary of these discussions .

This Task Force is a joint effort of several agencies in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs: the Department of Agricultural Resources, the Department of Energy Resources, and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center will also participate.