The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has strengthened its enforcement of solid waste disposal bans by issuing 98 notices of noncompliance and three waste ban penalties during the past year for violations involving the improper disposal of recyclable and recoverable materials. The list of violators covers a spectrum of public and private institutions, including the food and retail sectors, educational and medical facilities and waste haulers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, MassDEP says.
"An estimated 40 percent of the waste disposed of in Massachusetts is recyclable materials that are banned from disposal," says Kenneth Kimmell, MassDEP commissioner. "These enforcement actions are a wake-up call, reminding waste generators and businesses of their obligations. MassDEP stands ready to help them achieve successful recycling programs. When we increase recycling, we protect the environment, create more green jobs, conserve energy and improve our economic competitiveness."
Of these 101 violations, 83 were identified from October 2013 through January 2014, when new MassDEP waste ban compliance inspectors began work. The five-fold increase in inspections is part of a comprehensive state strategy to hike waste ban compliance rates, according to MassDEP. That effort relies on a combination of third-party monitoring data, increased MassDEP inspections and enforcement and enhanced outreach, education and assistance delivered through the RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts program. RecyclingWorks is a MassDEP-funded program that helps businesses and institutions reduce waste and increase recycling and composting.
The commonwealth's waste ban includes materials such as paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, metal containers, electronics, leaves and wood wastes.
Businesses receiving a notice of noncompliance are required to respond to MassDEP with their plans of action to stop the disposal of banned materials. Businesses that are looking for assistance with managing their waste materials, whether through reuse outlets, commodity brokers or recycling service providers, can obtain information and assistance through the RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts program at www.recyclingworksma.com or at 888-254-5525.