In early May, MassDEP unveiled the final Solid Waste Master Plan for Massachusetts, concluding an extensive public outreach and public comment period over the preceding months, after years of research and analysis. The plan sets an ambitious and reachable goal of reducing the state’s waste stream by 30 percent by 2020, and 80 percent by 2050, by employing a diverse strategy of increased commercial and residential recycling, materials re-use, tightening of the existing waste-ban enforcement across the Commonwealth, and by increasing the diversion of organics and food waste. It fosters and encourages the growth of anaerobic digestion and composting capacity, and extending producer responsibility for a variety of products.
The Plan includes a bold strategy to divert an additional 350,000 tons of food waste and organic materials on an annual basis by 2020 and build 50 megawatts of renewable energy from anaerobic digestion. The Plan also requires operators of landfills, incinerators and transfer stations to hire independent third-party inspectors to check and ensure that recyclable materials are taken out of the waste stream, and MassDEP is in the process of hiring three inspectors to increase review and enforcement of the waste bans. Finally, the Plan supports the current effort by “RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts” to start or expand the recycling programs at businesses across the Commonwealth.
With “zero-waste” as the ultimate goal, the Plan addresses the prospect of a looming 700,000-ton-per-year shortfall of disposal capacity in Massachusetts, even when all recycling and waste ban initiatives are fully implemented. So, the Plan allows a modification to the current incinerator moratorium to encourage the development of innovative and alternative technologies for converting municipal solid waste to energy or fuel on a limited basis.
“Massachusetts can no longer afford the same old methods of managing waste, and it’s unwise to rely on exporting our trash to other states,” said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell. “Traditional disposal of valuable materials is a waste of resources and a lost economic opportunity. By encouraging the development of innovative technologies, we can address that portion of the waste stream that recycling cannot now handle.”
The moratorium modification will allow the development of alternative technologies like gasification or pyrolysis. Total additional capacity for gasification or pyrolysis of solid waste will be limited statewide to 350,000 tons per year, which is half of the projected in-state capacity shortfall. If not addressed, that capacity shortfall would require these wastes to be exported to out-of-state facilities.
Any proposed gasification or pyrolysis projects will have to meet stringent recycling, emissions and energy efficiency standards, and new facilities will be subject to the same site assignment rules as other solid waste facilities.
To see the final Solid Waste Master Plan for 2010-2020 and the response to comments received on the draft document, visit: Solid Waste Master Plan.
To get more information on the release of the Solid Waste Master Plan, visit: Solid Waste Master Plan Focuses on Recycling, Materials Reduction, Waste Ban Enforcement to Build Path to a âZero Wasteâ Future .