In late September, the Department of Environmental Protection released its draft 10-year Solid Waste Master Plan.

The plan establishes the Commonwealth’s policy framework for reducing and managing solid waste that is generated, reused, recycled or disposed of by residents and businesses.

The plan begins by describing the new market conditions created by China’s National Sword policy, which limited recycling imports from the U.S., and the decline of in-state disposal and processing capacity for both solid waste and recycling.

The plan also highlights progress made over the past 10 years toward waste reduction goals – and where the Commonwealth fell short.

The previous 10-year plan set a goal to reduce total waste disposal across the Commonwealth by 2 million tons on an annual basis, for a 30% reduction over the decade. Through 2018, however, waste disposal had been reduced by only 14%.

The MassDEP predicts that landfill capacity for municipal solid waste and construction and demolition debris will decline to nearly zero by the end of the next decade, making source reduction and diversion efforts even more important.

The primary goals established in the 2020-2030 master plan are to reduce waste from the current baseline by an additional 30% by 2030 (1.7 million tons annually) and to continue to reduce the toxicity of the waste stream by diverting and properly disposing of hazardous materials.

Food waste represents the largest opportunity for waste reduction and diversion. The Solid Waste Master Plan sets a goal of diverting 570,000 tons of food material.

Since 2010, the state has provided $24 million in grants to 208 municipalities to assist with local initiatives to improve solid waste and recycling collection and reduction.

The first Solid Waste Master Plan was released in 1990, with subsequent plans released in 2000, 2006 and 2010.

The MassDEP is holding public hearings on the draft of the Solid Waste Master Plan, the first of which will be held on Oct. 30 at the MassDEP Central Regional Office in Worcester.

Remaining hearings will be held on the following dates, beginning at 5 p.m. unless otherwise noted:
• Nov. 6, MassDEP Northeast Regional Office, 205B Lowell St., Wilmington
• Nov. 7, 10 a.m, MassDEP Boston Office, One Winter St., 2nd floor, Boston
• Nov. 12, Sixteen Acres Branch, Springfield City Library, 1187 Parker St., Springfield
• Nov. 19, MassDEP Southeast Regional Office, 20 Riverside Drive, Lakeville

The public comment period on the draft SWMP will close at 5 p.m. on Dec. 6.

To review the draft plan and a summary presentation, and for information about previous master plans, visit www.mass.gov/guides/solid-waste-master-plan.

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