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

News Release | MASSPIRG | Solid Waste

Statement: MASSPIRG supports COVID-19 suspension of deposit system enforcement, looks forward to expansion of program in the future

Out of an abundance of caution due to the spread of COVID-19 in the state, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office announced  that they are suspending enforcement of the requirements for retailers to accept beverage containers that have a deposit. This decision is effective immediately and until further notice or until the current state of emergency is terminated.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Solid Waste

Hold the phone! Report shows that repairing your smartphone can save you money and our environment

We rely on our smartphones. When they break, we need them fixed — fast. Unfortunately, there are numerous barriers to fixing our phones. Manufacturers offer a dearth of repair options or digitally lock our phones so we can’t repair them. And when we can’t fix them, and have to get rid of them and buy new ones, that has terrible consequences for our environment.

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Right to Repair surges forward on multiple fronts to start 2020 | Nathan Proctor

It’s common-sense: If something you own breaks, you should be able to fix it. But manufacturers don’t see it that way. Instead, they use a set of tactics to block independent repair because they want consumers to have to come to them to do repairs. Right to Repair made considerable progress in 2019, and just a little over a month into 2020, we’re seeing continued momentum. 

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Solid Waste

Right to Repair wins the day in Massachusetts legislature, clears committee

Acting shortly before a committee deadline that could have killed the bill, the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Joint Committee gave a  favorable report to the Digital Right to Repair Act. If the bill ultimately becomes law, it would combat manufacturers’ near-monopoly on repair by giving the public access to the parts, tools and information needed to fix broken digital devices.

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Media Hit | Solid Waste

Thirty years later, they’re still pushing the bottle bill

MASSPIRG's Executive Director Janet Domenitz's career as political organizer and effort to update the Bottle Bill on the ballot this November. 

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Solid Waste

Updated Bottle Bill Heads to November Ballot

A broad coalition files petition signatures to qualify updated Bottle Bill for the ballot.

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Media Hit | Solid Waste

The bottle bill, again: Beacon Hill’s overdue deposit

Boston Globe calls for swift passage of Updated Bottle Bill!  "THE LEGISLATURE’S repeated failure to strengthen the state bottle bill has become an embarrassing symbol of special-interest power ...

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Media Hit | Solid Waste

Proposal to update state's bottle bill is moving on

Petition-drive organizers obtained more than enough signatures to send the Updated Bottle Bill to the state Legislature.

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Fixing your device just got easier: Right to repair movement scores major win

Repairing your electronic device just got a little easier thanks to a seemingly unexpected source: The Library of Congress.

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Blog Post | Health Care, Solid Waste

Right to Repair is a simple way to cut health care costs | Nathan Proctor

Cost containment is is a critical first step in addressing the deep faults in our health care system - it's hard to image fixing problems of access if we continue to be charged $15 for a Tylenol pill or $1,000 for a toothbrush. It turns out that overpriced equipment repair helps add to those inflated costs.

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Making our devices more fixable with ecodesign | Nathan Proctor

A conversation with Restart Project Co-Founder Ugo Vallauri about progress around ecodesign in Europe and how that connects to Right to Repair in the United States

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Countries are taking Apple to court over Right to Repair — and sometimes, they’re winning | Nathan Proctor

Apple was fined in Australia for disabling phones which were independently repaired, in a victory for Right to Repair advocates. 

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Why is it so hard to repair our stuff? | Nathan Proctor

We generate way too much waste, and companies use their power in the marketplace to make things harder to repair. That’s the idea behind “Right to Repair” laws -- they check companies ability to limit repairs and empower us to fix our own stuff. 

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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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