Increasing recycling for cleaner land and air

July 30, 2013

Trash transfer station

After a year-long campaign, our partnership with Clean Water Action convinced the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to tighten enforcement of state waste ban laws, which restrict certain materials from being burned or buried. In March, the DEP announced plans to hire three full-time waste ban inspectors who will begin reviewing processing procedures at trash transfer stations, landfills and incinerators to ensure that recyclable material is not thrown away. This is a dramatic improvement from current policies that allow companies to police themselves, in effect, by hiring their own inspectors.

Laws are in place to prevent recyclable materials from being dumped, but these laws are routinely ignored. For example, in 2011, the Howard Transfer Station in Roxbury accepted over 200,000 tons of solid waste, yet only 114 tons were diverted for containing banned material. That’s less than one percent, and it means that we’re burying and burning recyclables.

Transfer stations are temporary holding places where garbage is packed into tractor trailers for delivery to incinerators or landfills, and result in heavy traffic, noise, dust, litter and diesel exhaust in our neighborhoods. Incinerators burn garbage, which foul the air, leaves toxic ash and destroys resources like paper, cardboard, plastic and glass that can be recycled into new products and create many more jobs than waste disposal.

With your support, we’ve moved the DEP towards better enforcement on waste bans and stronger measures to regulate compliance. Thank you for supporting this work for more jobs and a sustainable future!