Zero waste: Fueling the economy, not the incinerators

October 23, 2008

ACE and other environmental groups are concerned that the Patrick administration may lift the decade-long moratorium on new incinerator capacity in Massachusetts when it revises the state’s Solid Waste Master Plan. We believe that keeping the moratorium in place is an environmental justice issue because incinerators, landfills, and trash transfer stations are too often located in lower income communities and communities of color.

A zero waste plan would prevent trash from being burned and contributing to the air pollution in EJ communities

There are no rules preventing those types of pollution sources from being placed in already overburdened environmental justice communities.

True sustainability includes ending the throw-away mentality where certain people and land are seen as expendable. In our environmental justice vision, justice and sustainability are inextricably linked. Putting the state on a zero waste plan (reduce, reuse, recycle, and producer take-back) would provide green jobs, help fuel a green economy rather than incinerators, protect public health and be an important step toward sustainability for all.

Recently, environmental organizations, state legislators and ACE wrote a letter to Governor Patrick, urging him to preserve the statewide moratorium on incineration capacity, create a more aggressive, comprehensive statewide waste-reduction plan and restore the Clean Environment Fund. If you care about this issue, please write to Governor Patrick and ask him to keep the moratorium on new incinerator capacity. Explain that there should be no new waste incinerators allowed in Massachusetts.

Last week, the Boston Globe published an editorial, "Waste Makes Haste", in which it cautioned against the state allowing more incineration. While the Globe could have been more forceful in its condemnation of incineration as a substitute for a good solid waste plan, we appreciate the editorial nonetheless. A follow-up letter to the Globe from ACE member Brent Baeslack makes the point well. Toxics in trash do not disappear through burning. The primary purpose of regulating trash disposal must be to protect public health and the environment. The state should create and implement a comprehensive waste reduction plan rather than allow trash-to-pollution by combustion.

The state intends to hold public hearings on amending the solid waste master plan. We are asking that the meetings be at reasonable times and locations so that they will be convenient for community residents to attend and speak out.