MassDEP Issues Updated Draft Solid Waste Master Plan
BOSTON - The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) today reissued the Patrick-Murray Administration's draft Solid Waste Master Plan in order to seek public comment on a proposal to modify the municipal solid waste incinerator moratorium. The draft plan has been updated to incorporate previously submitted comments and presents a series of initiatives to increase recycling, tighten waste ban enforcement and put Massachusetts on the path to a "zero waste" future.
"The Commonwealth's target is to reduce waste disposal by two million tons per year by 2020, so we must use all of the tools available to us in order to reach our goal," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan. "With increased recycling, composting, waste reduction and re-use, as well as utilizing cleaner new technologies, we can improve the quality of life for all residents."
The Solid Waste Master Plan (SWMP) sets forth a diverse strategy that will help communities increase recycling and composting, provide funding to support recycling and re-use efforts, increase the diversion of food and organic wastes, encourage the growth of anaerobic digestion capacity, extend producer responsibility to a variety of products, expand a program to help businesses and institutions reduce their wastes, and enhance waste ban enforcement across the Commonwealth.
The proposal to modify the municipal solid waste incinerator moratorium would encourage the development of alternative technologies that will convert into fuel some of the waste that remains after the recyclable materials have been removed from the waste stream.
"Keeping recyclable materials out of landfills and incinerators benefits Massachusetts environmentally and economically," said Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). "Allowing the development of innovative and cleaner technologies will help us deal with the portion of the waste stream for which recycling isn't currently feasible, to manage these materials in an environmentally responsible way."
The proposed incinerator moratorium modification encourages the use of alternative technologies, such as gasification or pyrolysis, for converting waste into energy or fuel on a limited basis. Total additional capacity for gasification or pyrolysis of solid waste would be limited statewide to 350,000 tons per year, which is half of the projected in-state capacity shortfall of 700,000 tons, if the master plan's disposal reduction goals are met.
Proposed projects would have to meet stringent recycling, emissions and energy efficiency standards, and new facilities would be subject to the same site assignment rules as other solid waste facilities. This modification would not change or lift the moratorium on construction of new capacity for traditional combustion of municipal solid waste.
"This slight modification to the moratorium makes sense, because it gives our cities and towns the opportunity to take advantage of promising new technologies, while at the same time protecting our environment and complementing, rather than replacing, recycling," said Sen. Marc R. Pacheco, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.
"I am excited to see all the progress being made on recycling, particularly the emphasis on taking food and yard waste out of landfills and incinerators and into digesters to produce clean, renewable energy," said Rep. Anne Gobi, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. "I commend the Patrick-Murray Administration, Secretary Sullivan and MassDEP for their continued work towards a 'zero waste' Commonwealth and anticipate positive results from the Solid Waste Master Plan."
To receive comments on this limited change in the SWMP draft, MassDEP today opens up a 60-day public comment period on only that portion of the draft that deals with solid waste incinerator moratorium. Comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday, March 1, 2013, and should be sent to: John Fischer at firstname.lastname@example.org by mail to: John Fischer, MassDEP, One Winter Street, Boston, MA 02108.
While the limited modification of the combustion moratorium is out for public comment, the Commonwealth will continue to promote the other initiatives identified in the master plan, including the bold plan to divert 450,000 tons of food waste and organic materials by 2020 and build 50 megawatts of renewable energy from anaerobic digestion of that diverted waste. Starting in 2014, this plan would phase-in a waste ban on food wastes from food processors and large institutions like colleges, hotels and grocery stores.
MassDEP will increase inspections of landfills, incinerators and transfer stations to ensure compliance with current waste bans. MassDEP will also propose changes to regulations that will require solid waste facilities to hire independent third-parties to perform regular facility inspections, have those inspectors check in-coming trash loads periodically, and require those inspectors to be independent from the entities that own and operate solid waste facilities.
Under the SWMP, MassDEP will promote municipal performance targets - combined with financial and other incentives - to help increase community recycling and composting. The plan also seeks to extend producer responsibility for waste products such as paint, carpet and pesticides, as well as expand the current Bottle Bill law to include water, juice, tea and sports drink containers.
The SWMP will support and expand the current "RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts" program, which is a statewide effort to help businesses and institutions increase recycling and composting and reduce their waste stream. The amendments to the revised SWMP draft are available for review on the MassDEP web site at: Solid Waste Master Plan Following completion of the supplemental comment period, MassDEP will publish the final plan, along with a final response-to-comments document. The response-to-comments will summarize and address comments already received on the 2010 SWMP draft and those received in this comment period on the combustion moratorium section of the revised plan.
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.