People and businesses in Massachusetts throw away over 5 million tons of trash every year. The government’s goal is to reduce this waste to 4 million tons by 2030 and to 570,000 tons by 2050.
The state has compiled a list of items that should never be thrown away, including glass, metal, lead-acid batteries, bricks and asphalt.
On November 1, the state added three more: textiles, mattresses and, to some extent, commercial food waste.
“We don’t typically impose a waste ban on individuals,” said John Fisher, deputy director of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) solid waste division. “When we enforce our waste bans, we want to enforce them against organizations that handle large volumes of banned material, which often means we take action against businesses and institutions.”
DEP also inspects large amounts of household waste and fines carriers or cities that break the rules.
Food waste is the largest unit in the waste stream – it accounts for about 21% of the total waste, or about 925,000 tons per year. The country hopes to reduce food waste in garbage by another 500,000 tons by 2030. If they can be used for composting or anaerobic digestion, that could also play a role.
Very little of our waste consists of textiles – about 5% or 250,000 tons per year. The DEP says 95 percent of the textiles in the trash can be reused or recycled. In addition, about 600,000 mattresses are sent to landfills and incinerators each year, where they are bulky and difficult to recycle. DEP estimates that 75 percent of mattress components, including metal and wood, as well as fabrics and fillers, can be separated and recycled.
The state has information on where consumers can take mattresses or textiles for recycling. You can also contact your city or your favorite local charity.
Textiles contaminated with mold, body fluids, insects, oils or hazardous substances must not be recycled. Depending on their condition, they may be sent to hazardous waste.
The state estimates that the initial ban affected about 2,000 businesses, with 2,000 more to be added now. About 1,000 to 1,500 of these newly added businesses may be restaurants, but this is still a small fraction of the total number of restaurants, the state said.
Industry advocates say a stricter ban on food waste is not expected to hurt restaurants because the cost of “redirecting” food waste to compost or anaerobic digestion is often comparable to the cost of throwing it away, at least in Massachusetts.
If you run a restaurant or other small business and need guidance on food waste or other littering bans, the state is launching a program called RecylingWorks to help reduce waste in a cost-effective way.
Barbara Moran, Twitter Correspondent, Climate & Environment Barbara Moran is the Environment Correspondent for WBUR.
Post time: Dec-01-2022