Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
The Honorable Carolyn Dykema, House Chair
The Honorable Rebecca Rausch, Senate Chair
Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture
State House, Boston
Dear Chair Dykema, Chair Rausch, and Members of the Committee,
On behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the MMA is pleased to weigh in on the slate of bills related to waste management, recycling, and plastics before your committee today. The upheaval of the global recycling market, which began several years ago, has had a profound impact on municipal recycling and waste collection programs. Our 351 member municipalities have seen significant increases in the cost of their contracts with haulers and processors, calling into question the financial sustainability of the current model for managing the end of life of materials. By and large, local government is the intermediary that provides these essential services to its residents, taking on a substantial cost and materials management burden. Moreover, the environmental impact of our status quo usage of disposable plastics and the challenges of discarding certain hazardous materials cannot be denied.
In January 2019, the MMA membership approved at our Annual Business Meeting a resolution supporting a local-state-federal partnership to address the challenges to the recycling marketplace. In line with our commitments named in that resolution, the MMA supports extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation that establishes manufacturer responsibility for end of life recycling of mattresses, paint, electronics, and other products that can be safely and sustainably diverted from the waste stream. Therefore, the MMA supports the broad goals of H.569 and S.570 on mattress recycling; H.938 on paint; H.979 on electronics; and S.500 on smoke detectors.
The MMA and our members are especially eager to see a mattress EPR bill pass this session, to coincide with the implementation of a proposed waste ban on mattresses by MassDEP. According to DEP’s current proposed timeline, a mattress waste ban would go into effect as soon as October 2021. Although we expressed concerns to DEP around the feasibility of proceeding with a full ban before more comprehensive mattress recycling infrastructure is in place statewide, the legislature has an important role to play in ensuring that mattress recycling is expanded and streamlined so municipalities are not left to manage the full cost and materials burden of these bulky and costly items. Please note that the MMA is aligned with the position of the Product Stewardship Institute and its municipal partners in suggesting edits to H.569 on mattress EPR.
The MMA is delighted to support H.878, An Act to save recycling costs in the Commonwealth, a bill that would establish a comprehensive EPR system for packaging whereby the established producer responsibility organizations would reimburse municipal recycling costs for packaging materials. This approach would shift much of the cost burden of managing the end of life of plastic packaging from local governments to producers. The MMA engaged in a working group that integrated components of previous EPR for packaging bills to arrive at a consensus position. We believe the approach outlined in H.878 will benefit municipalities while also having substantial environmental benefits. Please see the MMA’s support of a sign-on letter initiated by the Conservation Law Foundation on this bill for further comments.
Lastly, the MMA supports the broad aims of H.869, An Act to reduce single-use plastics from the environment. Last session, the MMA voiced strong support for legislation that would ban plastic bags and impose a small fee on paper bags at point of sale, language which is included in this omnibus plastics-reduction bill. The MMA has also supported legislation to phase out polystyrene containers and nips bottles, two other product categories named in this bill. We believe that any effort to reduce or eliminate single-use plastics from the solid waste and recycling streams will benefit the financial bottom line for cities and towns and also have positive environmental impacts.
Municipalities have been essential partners to the state in meeting waste reduction goals through the following interventions: investing in diversion programs such as for textiles, mattresses, and organic materials; passing more than 100 local bylaws and ordinances banning plastic bags and other single use plastic; and cleaning up residential recycling streams to reduce contamination.
Thank you very much for your partnership with cities and towns on so many issues. This is the time to make progress in addressing the cost and materials burden inherent in our recycling and solid waste management model. If you have any questions regarding our comments, or require additional information, please do not hesitate to have your office contact me or MMA Legislative Analyst Ariela Lovett at email@example.com or 973-634-5307 at any time.
Geoffrey C. Beckwith
MMA Executive Director & CEO