Massachusetts issues notices of noncompliance for violations of state recycling regulations

The state issued 119 notices of noncompliance and eight waste ban orders with penalties to entities violating the rules in 2018.

January 18, 2019

As part of the state’s commitment to help increase the diversion, reuse and recycling of materials, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) announced the agency issued 119 notices of noncompliance and eight waste ban orders with penalties to entities found violating the rules in 2018.

These actions, which build upon the state’s recent efforts to promote the environmental benefits of recycling, were for violations involving the improper disposal of significant amounts of recyclable materials and cover a wide spectrum of public and private institutions, including the food and retail sectors, hospitality sector, and educational and medical facilities.

The state’s waste bans include materials such as paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, metal containers, construction materials and leaves and yard waste that are improperly disposed of. The entire list and further descriptions can be found online

“While Massachusetts’ waste bans have increased recycling, it is important to make sure that the rules are being followed,” MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg says. “The inspection and compliance efforts have helped to highlight these opportunities for businesses and help them fix and improve their recycling programs. These inspections will continue as we work to make sure that we are doing our best to promote recycling.”

For years, MassDEP has had, and enforced, solid waste disposal bans. Waste bans have benefited the environment and the state by helping stimulate the market for recyclable materials, preserving the state’s limited disposal capacity, conserving natural resources and reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

More than 80 percent of observed waste ban violations were for improper disposal of cardboard, the agency says. For most of these violations, companies already had recycling programs in place. While the various programs faced a range of issues such as insufficient staff training, lack of signage or containers that were not the right size or not collected frequently enough, companies that were cited for noncompliance have addressed their respective issues and returned to compliance upon receiving notices for violations.

First-time violators received a notice explaining the waste ban program rules along with a reminder to improve the company’s practices in order to adhere to the state’s regulations. If MassDEP later observes the same company continued to throw out banned materials, a penalty is issued.

The actions taken by MassDEP are part of a comprehensive strategy that utilizes inspections and enforcement, third-party monitoring data and enhanced outreach, as well as education and assistance. One of the programs helping institutions recycle correctly in Massachusetts is RecyclingWorks.  RecyclingWorks is a MassDEP-funded program that provides free help to businesses to reduce waste and increase recycling.

In the state’s 2010-2020 Solid Waste Master Plan, increased waste ban compliance and enforcement efforts were highlighted as one of the key strategies to move recycling forward and meet Massachusetts goal to reduce disposal by 2 million tons on an annual basis by 2020.

Businesses that receive a notice of noncompliance are required to respond to MassDEP with their plan of action to stop the disposal of banned materials.

Businesses that are looking for assistance can obtain information and aid through the RecyclingWorks program.