MassDEP Steps Up Waste Ban Compliance Strategy with New Inspectors

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Posted: Monday, March 10, 2014 9:04 pm

BOSTON, Mass. -- The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has stepped up its enforcement of solid waste disposal bans, issuing 98 notices of non-compliance and three waste ban penalties over the past year for violations involving the improper disposal of significant amounts of recyclable and recoverable materials. The list of violators covers a wide spectrum of public and private institutions, including the food and retail sectors, educational and medical facilities and waste haulers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

"An estimated 40 percent of the waste disposed of in Massachusetts is recyclable materials that are banned from disposal," said MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell. "These enforcement actions are a wake-up call, reminding waste generators and businesses of their obligations. MassDEP stands ready to help them achieve successful recycling programs. When we increase recycling, we protect the environment, create more green jobs, conserve energy and improve our economic competitiveness."

Of these 101 violations, 83 were identified from October 2013 through January 2014, when new MassDEP waste ban compliance inspectors began work. The five-fold increase in inspections is part of a comprehensive state strategy to hike waste ban compliance rates. That effort relies on a combination of third-party monitoring data, increased MassDEP inspections and enforcement, and enhanced outreach, education and assistance delivered through the Recycling Works in Massachusetts program. RecyclingWorks is a MassDEP-funded program that helps businesses and institutions reduce waste and increase recycling and composting.

The Commonwealth's waste bans include materials such as paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, metal containers, electronics, leaves and wood wastes.

Waste bans have benefitted the environment and the Commonwealth by helping stimulate the market for recyclable materials, preserving the state's limited disposal capacity, conserving natural resources and reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

MassDEP encourages businesses to follow the letter of the law when it comes to recycling. Businesses typically receive a notice of non-compliance if inspectors discover that recyclable materials are improperly being sent for disposal. The violators are required to correct the problem. But if waste ban violations continue, further enforcement action, including financial penalties, may result.

In the Commonwealth's 2010-2020 Solid Waste Master Plan, increased waste ban compliance and enforcement efforts were highlighted as one of the key strategies to move recycling forward. While Massachusetts recycles 45 percent of the waste generated, that rate has leveled off over the past few years and millions of tons of recyclables continue to be disposed of in-state each year, demonstrating the need for improved MassDEP oversight of the waste bans and disposal practices.

Businesses that receive a notice of non-compliance are required to respond to MassDEP with their plan of action to stop the disposal of banned materials. Businesses that are looking for assistance with managing their waste materials, whether through re-use outlets, commodity brokers or recycling service providers, can obtain information and assistance through the RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts program.

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.

SOURCE: Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

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