Students involved with MASSPIRG will be taking action on the local and state level to improve and expand recycling and reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills and incinerators. On campus, we are working with campus administrators, facilities personnel, faculty and other student groups to improve campus recycling and composting programs. We will also ask our colleges and universities to become state and national leaders, by committing to become zero waste institutions over the next 10-15 years.
On the state level, we ware working with the state legislature to update the bottle bill, the most effective recycling plan in the state. We're also continuing to send public comments to the Department of Environmental Protection, as it finalizes the state's Solid Waste Master Plan - our plan for how we handle our waste for the next decade. So far, along with our coalition partners, we have turned in over 22,000 comments calling for a plan that prioritized reduce, reuse and recycle!
Forty years after the first Earth Day, we are still burying or burning more than half our waste. MASSPIRG has been urging the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to adopt a solid waste plan that emphasizes recycling and strives for a goal of zero waste. And, on July 2, the DEP released the draft Solid Waste Master Plan, the state’s blueprint for dealing with waste for the next decade.
The draft, called “The Pathway to Zero Waste,” certainly pursues zero waste in name, but does not move quickly enough to address our trash problem. The plan has set a goal of 80 percent reduction in waste by 2050, which is about 20 years too long. Plus, the draft includes loopholes that permit certain types of waste burning in a statewide ban on new incineration.
Campaign Builds Momentum
During the last year, MASSPIRG has collected and delivered 22,000 signatures to DEP Commissioner Laurie Burt asking for a Master Plan that firmly sets the Commonwealth on the road to zero waste.
In response to the draft plan issued on July 2, we have ramped up our campaign to educate the public about the plan’s contents—both its strengths and weaknesses—and encourage people to participate in the public hearings, outline our concerns to DEP as they consider public input, and generate media attention for an issue that affects every citizen in the Commonwealth for the next 10 years and beyond. To that end, we held a press event with members of HealthLink in Saugus on July 26 in front of one of the bigger incinerators in the state.
The event was attended by state Sen. Sal DiDomenico, who represents the area. The event preceded the public hearing held the next day in Boston, at which many MASSPIRG staff and volunteers testified. In addition, activists held a press event at the public hearing in Worcester on July 27 that drew local media.
At the deadline to turn in comments, MASSPIRG Executive Director Janet Domenitz, Campus Organizer Molly Gollish and UMASS Boston Chapter Chair Liam Rutter turned in over three thousand more comments to the DEP Commissioner Laurie Burt.
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