Too Little Too Late: Statement from Zero Waste Massachusetts on the Department of Environmental Protection’s just released 2020-2030 Solid Waste Master Plan

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Boston, MA: With one day’s notice, the MA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) held a webinar today at 2pm EST to release their 2020-2030 Solid Waste Master Plan (SWMP). And while some new initiatives were announced, the Plan falls far short of what is needed to curb climate pollution from trash, improve public health, and eliminate the burdens on environmental justice communities in the commonwealth. Zero Waste Massachusetts (Clean Water Action, MASSPIRG, CLF, Community Action Works) issued the follow statement, based on the DEP’s briefing:

“Our coalition has been working for zero waste in MA for over a decade. While we appreciate that the DEP has put the term ‘zero waste’ in the Plan’s subtitle, the policies in the plan should be more ambitious if we are to achieve the environmental, public health and equity goals that the residents of the Commonwealth want. 

DEP is making some forward strides, such as introducing new waste bans on textiles and mattresses. But we need to be moving at a greater clip towards a cleaner, more sustainable Commonwealth.

A few key examples of where this Plan does not make it anywhere near the goal posts:

-Food and yard waste diversion: Almost one third of what we currently send to landfills and incinerators is organics—food and yard waste—which we know how to, and must, divert from disposal. For years, DEP regulations have required any entity that generates more than 1 ton of this waste must divert it from disposal. We know how to ban food and yard waste completely, and this plan only gets us halfway to the goal posts. 

-The plan still allows 350,000 tons of new capacity for additional ways of combusting waste. If you put lipstick on a ‘new disposal technology’ it’s still a pig. We simply cannot enable more waste disposal by considering additional ways of combusting waste. 

-More than 40% of what is disposed of in landfills and incinerators are materials like paper, cardboard, glass, metal and other things which have been banned from disposal for decades. When asked in the briefing about what more will be done to enforce the bans, the answer came back: “We’ll do what we’ve been doing.”

We look forward to working with the DEP on improving this “living document” (DEP’s words) by strengthening its provisions, increasing the goals, and making Massachusetts the leader it could and should be in getting to zero waste.”