Campaign for Zero Waste

WORKING FOR ZERO WASTE— In Massachusetts, cardboard must be recycled by law. Yet each year, business violators send enough card and paper to  landfills and incinerators that it would fill Fenway Park. 

Don't Waste Massachusetts

Recycling Laws Are Being Violated

We already have a law that bans dumping recyclable materials in landfills and incinerators. And yet, every year more than 2 million tons of recyclable materials get dumped with the rest of the garbage.

Why?

Because the Department of Environmental Protection is lax on enforcement, while businesses, haulers, and landfill and incinerator operators ignore the regulations.

Waste Is Piling Up

Our incinerators are spewing toxic pollution, and our landfills are overflowing and leaking. That’s because we bury, burn or export 53 percent of our waste. But, of the waste that ends up in incinerators and landfills, more than half of it is recyclable, and a third of it is from excess packaging.

We Can Achieve Zero Waste

MASSPIRG is fighting to get the Commonwealth on the path to zero waste. The first step is to enforce the recycling laws already on the books. But we can’t stop there: we’re  working to ensure that state waste policy is dedicated to the principle of reduce, reuse, recycle, and that the Department of Environmental Protection is held accountable for the goals laid out in its Solid Waste Master Plan 2010-2020.

In order to accomplish these goals, MASSPIRG is pushing for commonsense solutions – such as a statewide ban on unnecessary plastic bags and an updated Bottle Bill, our most effective recycling program. We have also called for enforcement of waste bans which have been on the books for years but which many big businesses ignore. And, with the leadership of Senator Cynthia Creem and Rep Gloria Fox, we filed a bill which, when passed, will put the Commonwealth on a set timeline to achieve 70% recycling for water bottles and similar containers.

Issue updates

Blog Post | Solid Waste

Elizabeth L. Cline: we need policy to stop new clothes from making a ‘straight line’ to the landfill | Olivia Sullivan

We hear from the author and journalist on secondhand clothing, the fashion industry’s addiction to cheap fossil fuels and how to break the waste cycle.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Solid Waste

Jessica Schreiber: ‘It’s just too easy and convenient to throw things away’ | Olivia Sullivan

We need to make it easier for clothing companies to reuse and recycle. Policy, data collection and nonprofits can help.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Solid Waste

Brooke Roberts-Islam: a challenge to reducing fashion waste comes from ordering and producing ‘high volumes’ of clothing | Olivia Sullivan

We hear from the fashion industry expert and journalist on tech solutions to clothing overstock problems and how policy can drive industry change.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Solid Waste

U.S. PIRG Education Fund urges the public to hold Coca-Cola accountable on its pledge to reduce plastic use

The Coca-Cola Company, a top plastic polluter according to a 2020 Brand Audit from the nonprofit Break Free From Plastic, announced a new commitment today to start using plastic bottles made with 100 percent recycled plastic for select brands in some U.S. states. According to the company, it would account for a nearly 20 percent reduction of new plastic used in North America compared to 2018. The commitment follows similar ones made by other major consumer goods companies, recently documented by U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

We’re calling on Whole Foods to take single-use plastic packaging off its shelves | Aaron Colonnese

Harmful, unnecessary single-use plastic packaging doesn’t belong on the shelves of a grocery chain with a reputation for being environmentally conscious.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Solid Waste

Statement on the Massachusetts Plastic Bag Bill reported out of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture

As advocates for clean air, clean water, open space, public health, and a sustainable future, we are profoundly discouraged by the plastic bag bill that has been reported out of the Legislature's Joint Environment Committee. 

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Solid Waste

Groups call on Governor Baker to make Zero Waste the Commonwealth’s Goal by 2030

MASSPIRG called on Governor Charlie Baker to turn the upcoming 2020-2030 Solid Waste Master Plan into a Zero Waste Master Plan for the Commonwealth.

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News Release | MASSPIRG Education Fund | Solid Waste

New report provides best practices for composting waste

Composting all organic waste -- including food scraps and yard trimmings -- could eliminate nearly one-third of all materials sent to landfills and trash incinerators across the United States. That’s according to Composting in America, a new report released today by the MASSPIRG Education Fund and the Frontier Group. The report outlines best practices for composting programs, which are critical for mitigating the negative impact of waste on the climate and public health.    

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News Release | Solid Waste

After warning companies that "Void Warranty if Removed" are illegal, the FTC is expanding their investigation into anti-repair practices

This announcement comes after the FTC sent warning letters last April to six companies saying their "void warranty if removed" stickers violated consumer rights under Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act. A subsequent survey in October by U.S. PIRG Education Fund, "Warranties in the Void," showed that such anti-repair activity was even more widespread. The study surveyed 50 members of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers and found the 45 would void warranties for independent repair. 

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Pages

Blog Post | Solid Waste

Progress or more of the same from top corporate plastic polluters? | Haley Clinton

For the third year in a row, the list of the largest plastic polluters in the world remains pretty much the same. According to the 2020 Brand Audit Report by Break Free From Plastic, the corporations responsible for polluting the greatest amount of plastic waste are, in order: The Coca-Cola Company; PepsiCo; Nestlé; Unilever; Mondelez International; Mars, Inc.; Procter & Gamble; Philip Morris International; Colgate-Palmolive; and Perfetti Van Melle.

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Toxic chemicals in single-use plastics are harming human healthDanielle MelgarHaley Clinton

Plastic is a problem not just for our environment, but also for our health. Chemicals used to make plastics anti-microbial, flame retardant, and more, can be toxic.

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Right to Repair 2020 wrap-up: Notable wins as campaign advances | Nathan Proctor

A look at 2020 highlights and milestones for the campaign to fix our stuff, and a look ahead to 2021

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Garbage in Massachusetts | Janet Domenitz

MASSPIRG along with Conservation Law Foundation, Community Action Works and Clean Water Action have released “Garbage in Massachusetts,” a brief description of waste and how it is disposed of in Massachusetts. This outline on trash in Massachusetts is part of our Zero Waste Campaign. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is in the process of drafting the Commonwealth’s 2020-2030 Solid Waste Master Plan, which will serve as the blueprint for how we deal with waste for the next decade.

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

16 ways to have a zero waste holiday in 2020 | Haley Clinton

With many cancelling annual gatherings, this is the year to think of ways to have a more sustainable, zero waste holiday season. Here are some ideas:

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Pages

Blog Post

Every year, Amazon destroys unsold and returned products by the millions. It's the pinnacle of unnecessary waste, and it has to stop.

Blog Post

Celebrating my favorite government mascot’s 50th birthday by sharing the zero-waste tips I have made a part of my life.

Blog Post

It’s the plastics industry’s worst-kept secret: a huge percentage of their products are designed to be used once then thrown away -- and yet it’s us, the consumers, who are left to pay for the cleanup.

Blog Post

In early August, the Boston Globe ran a front page story about a proposed landfill to be built near a pristine lake in New Hampshire. A substantial amount of Massachusetts waste is exported for disposal in other states, including to NH. While MASSPIRG has been asking the MA Department of Environmental Protection to set a goal of zero waste in Massachusetts for years, the article made painfully clear how waste disposal ruins the environment and public health in New England, so a handful of leading environmental and public health organizations called on Governor Baker get serious about adopting Zero Waste policies.

Solid Waste

Report highlights cost- and waste-saving potential of right to repair

Our new report details the millions of pounds of avoidable electronic waste that Massachusetts produces and examines the obstacles people face to repairing their electronics, most notably manufacturer restrictions on repair. The report shows that Bay Staters would fix their devices and keep them for longer if they had the tools to do so.

 

Solid Waste

MASSPIRG hosts webinar to call for better plastics policies coming out of pandemic

During the pandemic, single-use plastics falsely masqueraded as a more hygienic alternative to reusable options, and we now have far too much plastic waste. MASSPIRG and others hosted a webinar to boost bills that will restrict the use of plastics and update the Massachusetts bottle bill.

 

Solid Waste

Local plastic bag ban delays; renewed call to reduce waste

This summer, Gov. Charlie Baker took a major step to get the Bay State back on the path to zero waste by reinstating single-use plastic bag bans in 139 cities and towns. But local delays and confusion remain in several jurisdictions, prompting MASSPIRG and our partners to renew our call for the commonwealth to get back to reducing harmful and unnecessary plastic waste.

 

Solid Waste

Massachusetts resumes bans on single-use plastic bags

Gov. Charlie Baker has rescinded an emergency order from March that paused the use of reusable bags in the commonwealth. The decision will allow bans on single-use plastic bags to resume in 139 cities and towns across Massachusetts. 

 
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