Despite receiving nearly 14,000 messages urging Governor Patrick to retain a 23-year old moratorium on new trash incinerators, the Administration today announced that the Commonwealth is open to incineration developers. MassDEP received only 11 comments in favor of allowing gasification technologies, a form of incineration.
Burn facilities recover only a small amount of energy from garbage while burning resources that could be recycled or composted, creating new businesses and jobs.
While the Administration claims that lifting the moratorium encourages improvements in incineration, Clean Water Action’s Solid Waste Director, Lynne Pledger said, “Massachusetts should foster innovation that leads us to a sustainable future¬new technologies for reuse, repair, and remanufacturing¬not for destroying resources. This decision means jobs going up in smoke.”
The decision to allow certain gasification came with the release of the Solid Waste Master Plan, 2010-2020.
Gasification (staged incineration) has a record of toxic emissions and economic and operational failures in this country and worldwide. Also these facilities compete with recycling plastic, paper, and cardboard.
The Administration has not named any facility or report on which the decision was based to allow this experimental technology in Massachusetts.
On December 11, 2009 the Administration announced a policy shift toward waste reduction and said the Solid Waste Master Plan, 2010-2020 would retain the moratorium and increase recycling.
While the Administration notes that the state is running out of landfill space, it is also filling up with recyclable material such as paper, bottles, and cans, which are banned from disposal. Last fall MassDEP acknowledged that they have only issued three penalties for waste ban violations in the last three years.
The Massachusetts Sierra Club is a member of the Don't Waste Massachusetts coalition which issued the following statement:
"Don’t Waste Massachusetts, a statewide alliance of membership organizations, is deeply disappointed by Governor Patrick’s decision to lift the 23-year-old moratorium on new incinerators in Massachusetts as part of the 2010-2020 Solid Waste Master Plan just released. Reversing the policy against new incinerators is a huge mistake and a betrayal of the public’s expressed wishes.
#1: Facilities that burn waste take recyclable and compostable materials and turn them into toxic by-products that then must be landfilled. In addition to being the most expensive way to generate energy, incineration is dirty and inefficient. Gasification (staged incineration) has a record of failure in this country and worldwide. Also these facilities compete with recycling plastic, paper, and cardboard.
#2: In hundreds of hours of testimony at public hearings, and thousands of postcards and emails in which the public resoundingly called for waste reduction, and in almost 14,000 comments recently sent to MassDEP opposing a change in the moratorium¬versus 11 in favor¬the public has made it resoundingly clear that we don’t want more burning in Massachusetts.
#3: The Administration’s decision to reverse its policy says to the waste industry and the nation: Massachusetts has veered off the Path to Zero Waste (the name for the draft Solid Waste Master Plan) and is open for burning.
Don’t Waste Massachusetts alliance will continue to provide the facts about gasification and advocate for a Zero Waste state policy that embraces and implements “reduce, reuse and recycle.”