Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
1 Winter St., Boston
ATTN: Comments Regarding Proposed Changes to 310 CMR 19.000
Dear Mr. Fischer,
On behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association appreciates the opportunity to provide comments in response to MassDEP’s proposed amendments to 310 CMR 19.000, Solid Waste Facility Regulations, establishing a disposal ban for mattresses and textiles in Massachusetts. While the MMA and our member municipalities support the intent of the proposed ban to divert mattresses and textiles from the waste stream while promoting recycling and reuse, we question whether there is sufficient recycling infrastructure and funding in place to justify a total ban at this time.
Over the past three years, as Massachusetts has had to adjust to unprecedented changes in the global recycling marketplace, the MMA and our members have remained steadfast partners with MassDEP in promoting better recycling practices through various approaches. In the category of mattresses, according to MassDEP’s Draft 2030 Solid Waste Master Plan, more than 60 municipal grantees have recycled more than 70,000 mattresses, diverting nearly 2,000 tons from the solid waste stream since 2016. Those communities were able to achieve that level of recycling and diversion through the support of MassDEP’s Mattress Recycling Incentive Program. In the category of textiles, several municipalities have contracted with third-party vendors to offer textile recycling to their residents, and many communities are home to clothing drop-off bins or sites managed by charitable organizations.
Even with a proposed October 2021 timeline for implementation of a disposal ban on mattresses and textiles, the MMA and our member municipalities are seriously concerned that sufficient infrastructure and funding will not be in place to ensure that the full supply of these items will be accounted for in the residential wastestream. In its fiscal impact analysis accompanying the draft regulations, MassDEP asserts that municipalities will experience a zero or very minimal increase in processing costs. In reality, the cost implication for municipalities is difficult to assess when only a fraction of the needed recycling infrastructure is in place for the product categories in question. With so much uncertainty, we believe the potential for significant new cost burdens on municipalities should not be understated. Further, there would likely be a high degree of variability in the impact across municipalities, making the resulting problems more difficult to ameliorate through policy interventions.
A total disposal ban is premature while municipalities continue to face cost concerns around processing both recyclable and disposed materials, including bulk items such as mattresses. We applaud the success of the existing MassDEP grant programs to support mattress and textile recycling. However, we believe they are not sufficient to support a ban that is proposed for implementation less than one year from now.
From an environmental perspective, the MMA also shares the concerns of other stakeholders, including the International Sleep Products Association, that a total ban on the disposal of mattresses without sufficient recycling infrastructure in place might lead to increased diversion out of state rather than proper recycling in-state.
In recent years, the MMA has expressed support for the development of an extended producer responsibility system for mattresses, among other difficult-to-dispose product categories. During the 2019-2020 session, we testified in favor of legislation to establish a commission to study the existing mattress recycling infrastructure system and propose expansion strategies. MassDEP’s Draft Solid Waste Master Plan states that the Commonwealth’s priorities include the advancement of an extended producer responsibility system for mattresses, as well as the development of local markets for recycling/reuse/management for mattresses and textiles. The MMA wholeheartedly agrees with MassDEP’s commitment to increasing mattress recycling and the reuse and recycling of textiles, and is grateful for your stated intentions around enhancing grants and technical assistance programs to support the necessary infrastructure. We urge you to put much more of this in place before municipalities and their residents are subjected to a total disposal ban.
The MMA appreciates our continued membership on MassDEP’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee, and we welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with MassDEP before a final decision is made on the proposed waste bans, to ensure that municipal concerns and realities are taken into full consideration.
Thank you for considering our comments outlined above. If you have any questions regarding our comments, or require additional information, please do not hesitate to 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