BOSTON — The Massachusetts Senate passed legislation to develop and achieve performance standards for solid waste recycling, promoting a healthy and sustainable Commonwealth.
“Aside from the clear environmental benefits of expanding opportunities for recycling, reuse, and remanufacturing, it’s also worth noting that this industry directly supports an estimated 14,000 jobs in Massachusetts,” said Sen. Moore. “I am proud to have supported this legislation in the Senate and hope the bill will arrive on the Governor’s desk during the current legislative session.”
Before 1990, Massachusetts residents recycled about 10 percent of their discarded materials. In 1990, Massachusetts adopted its first Solid Waste Master Plan, a blueprint for managing solid waste that is generated, reused, recycled, recovered and disposed in the Commonwealth. Since then, government and citizen efforts have led to a 47 percent recycling rate overall, which is among the best in the nation. However, waste generation continues to increase while the growth in recycling has leveled off, and we continue to dispose of materials that have significant value.
The legislation requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to establish performance standards for municipal solid waste reduction by July 1, 2017. It also requires the reduction of no more than 600 pounds of solid waste per capita by July 1, 2018, and no more than 450 pounds per capita by July 1, 2022. A Municipal Solid Waste Standards Action Plan will be developed by DEP by December 1, 2017.
“This bill provides multiple benefits such as relieving pressure to expand landfills and incinerators, conserving natural resources, reducing emissions and saving municipalities money,” said Erica Mattison, legislative director of the Environmental League of Massachusetts. “To fulfill the state’s Solid Waste MasterPlan, it is necessary for best practices already in place in many of our communities to become more commonplace.”
Cities and towns will annually report to DEP the amount of solid waste disposed of through solid waste programs. If unable to meet the municipal solid waste reduction standards prescribed by DEP, a report shall be submitted detailing reasons therefor and a plan to achieve performance standards. DEP is also required to issue a report providing per-capita solid waste disposal statistics for all municipal solid waste programs. The department shall file the report with the clerks of the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.
Solid waste has two major components that consist of municipal solid waste or trash generated by residents, businesses, institutions and municipalities (not including hazardous waste and other industrial by-products) and debris generated by building construction and demolition work.
The bill, which was originally filed by Senator Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton), now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.