Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
Whereas, the recycling marketplace in Massachusetts faces serious challenges that have stretched municipal budgets and limited options for processing recyclable materials;
Whereas, the strength of China’s purchasing power for recyclables led to a decline in domestic markets for recyclable materials in the U.S., and the closure of glass and paper processing facilities in Massachusetts;
Whereas, contamination in the Massachusetts recycling stream has increased as a result of a transition to single-stream recycling and gaps in the understanding of residents and businesses as to how to recycle properly;
Whereas, China’s National Sword Policy and the policies of other international purchasers of recyclables from the U.S. limiting the types and amount of recyclable materials exported from the U.S. has disrupted the financial landscape of recycling throughout the country, and in Massachusetts specifically;
Whereas, the U.S. faces a solid waste crisis stemming from overconsumption of material goods, excess packaging and reliance on single-use plastic, and a finite amount of landfill space and other disposal facilities;
Therefore, it is hereby resolved that the members of the Massachusetts Municipal Association support the following essential policy positions to ensure a strong local, state, and federal partnership to address the challenges to the recycling marketplace:
Policy Development and Advocacy
• Municipal officials and the MMA should be active participants in state and federal policy development regarding solid waste management and recycling, including membership on the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee in developing the long-range 2020-2030 Solid Waste Master Plan;
• Municipal officials and the MMA should participate in national, international and local organizations with a diverse range of stakeholders to review and explore ways to address solid waste and recycling challenges and share best practices;
• Municipal officials and the MMA should work with national organizations and our federal delegation to advocate for federal funding and programs to invest in recycling infrastructure and education;
• State and federal policy should support local efforts to reduce the waste stream by limiting or ending the use of hard-to-manage products and materials such as plastic bags, single-use plastic bottles, and Styrofoam and similar products;
• State and federal agencies and lawmakers should take steps to require that manufacturers and third-party sellers reduce the amount of packaging, both recyclable and non-recyclable, that accompanies products for sale;
• Cities and towns should review local procurement practices to explore opportunities to reduce excess packaging and materials and to develop minimal packaging standards;
Waste Diversion and Recycling
• The state should continue its efforts to standardize rules and practices regarding what materials can be recycled, and should provide assistance to cities and towns in educating the public on what and how to recycle properly;
• The state should provide support to municipalities to aid in the enforcement of state and municipal recycling protocols with residents and businesses;
• The state and federal governments should use all of the tools at their disposal to create new markets for processing recyclable materials, both in state and regionally;
• Municipal officials and the MMA should support product stewardship legislation that requires manufacturer responsibility for end-of-life recycling of mattresses, paint cans, electronics and other products than can be diverted from the local waste stream;
• Municipal officials and the MMA support diversion of materials from the solid waste stream, such as organics for composting and textiles for proper recycling;
• The MMA supports full review of regional and local approaches to identifying disposal options for the solid waste that cannot be recycled or otherwise diverted from the waste stream, consistent with state environmental and energy objectives;
State and federal government policymakers, alongside academia and private industry, should support the development of new technologies for sustainable waste disposal, such as trash-to-energy, gasification and other innovations; and
It is further resolved that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the governor of the Commonwealth, the General Court of the Commonwealth, and the members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation.