The new regulation on the prohibition of waste disposal is now in force

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The Baker-Polito administration announced Nov. 1 that new waste ban regulations that promote recycling and reuse, reduce waste disposal, and promote the growth of recycling businesses will take effect from today, November 1, 2022. New regulations will prohibit the disposal of mattresses. and textiles in the trash, as well as reducing food waste from businesses and institutions. Massachusetts currently has a food waste ban for businesses that dispose of a ton or more per week, and these regulations lower that threshold to half a ton per week.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) banned food waste disposal from businesses and institutions disposing of a ton or more per week in 2014, which increased food waste diversion by 100,000 tons per year to over 300,000 tons per year, while creating hundreds of new jobs and increasing gross state product by $77 million. Despite this progress, food waste still accounts for more than a fifth of the waste we dispose of. Lowering the threshold from one ton to half a ton per week is intended to continue Massachusetts’ progress in this area. It is estimated that 4,000 businesses will be subject to the new threshold. Fortunately, businesses in Massachusetts are on track to comply, as more than 3,500 businesses have already participated in a food waste collection program in 2021.

“To achieve the important goals set out in the 2030 Solid Waste Master Plan, the Baker-Polito administration has focused on reducing waste disposal, while increasing measures for recycling, diversion, reuse and compost,” Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Carte said. “These regulations and the supporting strategies that are being implemented today will continue our leading national efforts and kick-start the waste diversion work that is taking place across the Commonwealth.”

MassDEP supported the food waste ban by providing grants to companies establishing or expanding their capacity to manage food waste, including anaerobic digestion and composting operations. MassDEP also recently announced a new grant offer to invest in the expansion of food waste, mattress and textile collection infrastructure. Additionally, MassDEP supports corporate waste reduction, recycling and composting initiatives through the RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts program. This program, fully funded by MassDEP, is managed under contract by the Center for Eco Technology. Through RecyclingWorks, businesses in Massachusetts receive free assistance in managing all the waste they generate, including new banned materials.

Textiles represent another significant opportunity for Massachusetts to reduce the waste stream and capture valuable resources. Every year, the Commonwealth throws more than 200,000 tonnes of textiles into the trash. This includes old clothes, as well as other things like towels, sheets, and even bags, belts, and shoes. Fortunately, Massachusetts has an extensive collection infrastructure of non-profit and for-profit textile salvage organizations that can find new use for these materials, either by selling or donating for reuse, or by recycling them. in products such as carpet padding, insulation or wiping rags.

“Textile salvage is a great opportunity for our cities and towns to reduce waste disposal for their residents while getting paid for the valuable textiles they salvage,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “We are thrilled to partner with this burgeoning industry to take these valuable materials out of the waste stream and put them back to work.”

Mattresses are a difficult material to manage in solid waste management facilities and take up a large amount of space in landfills. Over 75% of mattresses can be effectively separated and recycled, including metal, wood, fabric and padding. Massachusetts has established a statewide mattress recycling contract that includes five recycling companies that can service Massachusetts municipalities that establish mattress recycling programs to serve their residents. MassDEP has provided grants to several of these companies, as well as other Massachusetts-based mattress recyclers, to increase mattress management capacity, as well as create new employment opportunities. Massachusetts generates about 600,000 unwanted mattresses a year, of which about 200,000 come from residents, with the rest coming from businesses and institutions. MassDEP has awarded grants to help establish mattress recycling programs in 137 municipalities. More information on waste disposal bans can be found on the MassDEP website.

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