UPDATE: On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously approved the legislation that would limit the amount of solid waste that municipalities can dispose of per capita.
The Senate exempted municipalities that do not operate waste and recycling collection, as long as such communities have discussions with residents and private haulers "to establish solid waste performance standards for the municipality," according to the amendment.
There is still some opposition toward the bill, specifically from leaders that are worried municipalities will be burdened by the costs of such restrictions. "The bill includes no funding to pay for these mandates, and also omits any tangible technical assistance to help communities," said Massachusetts Municipal Association Executive Director Geoff Beckwith in a letter.
- Massachusetts State Senator Marc Pacheco has reintroduced a bill that would require strict waste reduction goals. Municipalities could not annually exceed more than 600 pounds of solid waste per capita by July 2018 and 450 pounds per capita by July 2022.
- A variety of amendments have been proposed to the bill, including changes to the language on per capita generation and state reporting requirements, and it is still evolving.
- A similar version of this bill passed the Senate in 2014, though wasn't passed by the House of Representatives. Debate has been postponed in the Senate until June 28.
Waste reduction has received renewed interest as the state's dwindling landfill capacity and resistance to new waste-to-energy facilities put Massachusetts in a tough position. Recently proposed landfill expansions in Saugus and Southbridge face strong community opposition.
While some are concerned that it may be hard to reach the bill's targets, many municipalities that have pay-as-you-throw programs are already doing it. Pacheco said 53% of the state's municipalities currently meet the 2018 goal and 26% are already hitting the 2022 goal. He framed the issue as an essential part of reducing emissions as well.
"The more trash we put into landfills, the more we fill up landfills quickly, the more greenhouse gases we have emitted from landfills," Pacheco told the State House News Service. "It's a never-ending cycle that we really can't have continue."
This comes as Boston considers its own zero waste future. A coalition of city officials, environmental organizations and community groups is currently finalizing a proposal to submit to the mayor this summer. The city's current recycling rate, when including yard waste, is roughly 20% and all involved see lots of room for improvement.