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In the wake of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) recent decision to lift its 23-year ban on new incinerators, the consumer advocacy group MASSPIRG (Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group) is calling on DEP to step up enforcement of their longstanding waste bans. Estimates show that close to two million tons of materials like paper, cardboard, glass, and metal are incinerated or landfilled each year, while DEP's own regulations ban such disposal.
One example from MASSPIRG research, based on DEP's own figures, shows that enough cardboard will be thrown away this summer to fill Fenway Park to the monster seats. Cardboard, per DEP regulations on the books since the early 1990's,is banned from disposal in landfills and incinerators. These DEP regulations, called "waste bans," apply to several easily recycled materials such as glass, metal and wood, as well as to particularly toxic products and materials. (Waste bans can be found here.)
"It's time to get more 'cops' on the beat," commented Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG, which is collecting signatures on petitions asking DEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell to step up enforcement of the waste bans. "Garbage is a big business in Massachusetts, and it's clear that landfills, incinerators, waste haulers and big waste generators are flaunting these regulations." Although there is significant evidence of large scale violations of these waste bans, the DEP has only issued a handful of penalties over the past few years.
MASSPIRG today publicly called on DEP Commissioner Kimmell to enforce the state's waste bans, and to commit to that by signing a pledge which reads:
“We are aware that almost half of all waste disposed of in landfills and incinerators is banned by our own regulations. We will enforce these regulations to the fullest extent of the law, and reduce the violations by 50% within a year (by9/1/2014),and an additional 50% in the second year, for a total of 75% reduction after 2 years.”
MASSPIRG’s Executive Director Janet Domenitz, added, “The DEP's justification for allowing new incineration is, we are running out of space for our waste. That's like saying 'I'm overweight, better get bigger pants.' It's time to tighten our belts, shape up, and enforce the law. That's how we'll truly get to reduce, reuse, recycle."
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