A big state-wide change is coming to the types of materials allowed to be disposed of in a Massachusetts incinerator or landfill. You may have seen a news story or mailer from the DPW with information about this upcoming ban.
Beginning Nov 1, 2022, the state of Massachusetts will add two categories to the Waste Disposal Ban that impact every day residents: Mattresses and Textiles.
How did we get here?
Massachusetts has a trash disposal problem. Contrary to common belief, almost all trash in our State is incinerated. The few landfills remaining are small, municipal sites with planned closures in the next few years or ash landfills that bury the leftovers from incinerators. Bedford’s trash is sent to Covanta Energy (a waste-to-energy incinerator) in Haverhill, MA. The state’s incinerator sites can only accept a certain quantity of material per day. These sites are operating at or near capacity and the lines to unload can be very long. It’s suspected that, soon, communities in Massachusetts will need to send trash, by rail car, to places like New Hampshire and Ohio because we just don’t have the room for our trash.
History of the Waste Disposal Ban
MassDEP first introduced Waste Disposal Bans in 1990, when easy-to-recycle materials (like a plastic water bottle) and hazardous chemicals (like mercury) were prohibited from disposal. Since that time, MassDEP has added to the list and created a Solid Waste Master Plan to address this disposal crunch. The 2030 Plan aims for a 30% reduction in disposal volumes by 2030 and a 90% reduction by 2050 (over a 2018 baseline).
Materials on the Waste Ban list:
• Clean gypsum wallboard
• Commercial food material (lower threshold effective November 1, 2022)
• Ferrous and non-ferrous metals
• Glass and metal containers
• Lead acid batteries
• Leaves and yard waste
• Mattresses (effective November 1, 2022)
• Recyclable paper, cardboard and paperboard
• Single-resin narrow-necked plastic containers
• Textiles (effective November 1, 2022)
• Treated and untreated wood and wood waste (banned from landfills only)
• White goods (large appliances)
• Whole tires (banned from landfills only; shredded tires acceptable)
Bedford Public Works offers several programs to help residents deal with unwanted items on the state Waste Ban list.
1. Mattresses - Schedule mattress pick up with UTEC at www.UTEC-mattress.org/schedule. This is a free service for residents with municipal trash pickup. Drop off is also available to the general public at UTEC’s facility in Lawrence, MA. Residents in developments with private trash should check with their property manager for other options.
2. Textiles - Clothing and other textiles can be recovered in any condition (ripped, worn/torn is fine) as long as the material is clean and dry. Textiles drop boxes are located at Bedford High School, Lane School and now at the Compost & Recycling Center. All residents, including those in developments with private trash, can now schedule a curbside home pick up of textiles and other household items with CMRK at www.CMRKne.com Please also note, clothing and textiles DO NOT belong in the blue curbside recycling carts. Please use donation programs instead.
For a full list of programs for residents, please view the Annual Trash & Recycling guide
1. MassDEP 2030 Solid Waste Master Plan: https://www.mass.gov/doc/2030-solid-waste-master-plan-working-together-toward-zero-waste/download
2. As landfill space dwindles in Massachusetts, New Hampshire has become the state’s dumping ground, Boston Globe, July 19, 2021 https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/07/19/metro/landfill-space-dwindles-massachusetts-new-hampshire-has-become-states-dumping-ground/
3. Massachusetts banning disposal of textiles, mattresses and more organics in 2022, Waste Dive, Nov. 3, 2021 https://www.wastedive.com/news/massachusetts-2022-disposal-ban-textile-mattress-organics/609111/
4. With mattress landfill ban looming, Kennedy bill aims to preserve recycling niche for nonprofits like UTEC, Lowell Sun, July 27, 2022 https://www.lowellsun.com/2022/07/27/with-mattress-landfill-ban-looming-kennedy-bill-aims-to-preserve-recycling-niche-for-nonprofits-like-utec/amp/
5. Your Clothes Have an Afterlife, NIST, May 9, 2022 https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2022/05/your-clothes-can-have-afterlife
6. MassDEP Waste Ban Fact Sheet https://www.mass.gov/doc/fact-sheet-what-are-the-massachusetts-waste-bans/download