For Immediate Release - May 07, 2013

Solid Waste Master Plan Focuses on Recycling, Materials Reduction, Waste Ban Enforcement to Build Path to a ‘Zero Waste’ Future

BOSTON – The Patrick-Murray Administration today issued the final Solid Waste Master Plan for the 10-year period ending in 2020, putting Massachusetts on the path to a “zero waste” future.

The master plan announces a goal of reducing waste by 30 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. The plan features a diverse strategy that will increase commercial and residential recycling and materials re-use, tighten waste ban enforcement across the Commonwealth, increase the diversion of organics and food waste, encourage the growth of anaerobic digestion and composting capacity, extend producer responsibility for a variety of products, and provide funding to municipalities to support recycling and re-use efforts.

“As we implement this Solid Waste Master Plan, we can look to a future with full recycling bins, empty trash cans, active re-use markets, new green jobs, and innovations in waste reduction technology,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan. “With these initiatives, we will reach our goal of reducing waste disposal by two million tons per year by 2020.”

While the Solid Waste Master Plan (SWMP) promotes a number of important efforts to increase recycling and reduce waste generation, it also recognizes that by 2020, Massachusetts will have a shortfall of capacity to dispose of waste that cannot be recycled or re-used. The SWMP modifies 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 Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). “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 of 700,000 tons expected in 2020, even if all of the master plan’s disposal reduction goals are met. If not addressed, that capacity shortfall would require these wastes to be exported to out-of-state facilities.

Proposed projects that would use an innovative or alternative technology 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. The modification will not change or lift the moratorium on construction of new capacity for traditional combustion of municipal solid waste.

“Food waste and other organic materials represent fuel sources for renewable energy production that are frequently unrealized,” said Senator Marc Pacheco, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “These rules are a step toward making it easier to lower our carbon footprint while we take advantage of these better energy opportunities.”

“I appreciate the continued environmental leadership of the Patrick-Murray Administration,” said Rep. Anne Gobi, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “Our future will be one that needs greater environmentally sound waste management and an increase in the public’s participation in recycling and reuse. This plan puts us on that path.”  

“On behalf of cities and towns across the state, the Massachusetts Municipal Association applauds MassDEP's decision to incorporate gasification and pyrolysis into the new Solid Waste Master Plan,” said MMA Executive Director Geoffrey C. Beckwith. “When the old master plan was put in place, this new technology was not available, and municipalities only had access to mass burn incinerators for municipal waste. Today, gasification and pyrolysis can be effective methods of converting non-recyclable materials into fuel. Allowing this new technology makes economic and environmental sense, and has the potential to preserve limited open space, protect the environment and save municipalities money.”

The SWMP includes a bold plan 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. Starting in 2014, the Commonwealth would phase-in a ban on the land-filling or burning of food wastes from food processors and large institutions like colleges, hotels and grocery stores.

As part of the plan, MassDEP will also increase its inspections of landfills, incinerators and transfer stations to ensure compliance with current waste bans. MassDEP will also change its regulations to require all 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 the facilities they inspect.

Under the SWMP, MassDEP will promote municipal performance targets – combined with financial and other incentives totaling $2.5 million annually – to help increase recycling and composting. The master plan also seeks to extend producer responsibility for waste products such as paint, carpet and pesticides, as well as expand the current bottle deposition law to include water, juice, tea and sports drink containers.

Under the SWMP, MassDEP will also support and expand the current “RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts” program, a statewide effort to help businesses and institutions increase their recycling and composting and reduce their waste stream.

Recycling, re-use and manufacturing based on recycled feed stocks directly supports more than 2,000 businesses, with an estimated 14,000 jobs in Massachusetts, a payroll of nearly $500 million, and annual revenues of $3.2 billion.

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

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.