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Solid waste industry opposes Massachusetts bills requiring recycling and composting

Trash cans that have been redesigned to collect and separate recycling.
Nancy Eve Cohen
Trash cans that have been redesigned to collect and separate recycling.

An association representing the waste and recycling industry spoke Tuesday against proposed legislation that would direct Massachusetts cities and towns to set up recycling programs.

House Bill 2158 and Senate Bill 1332 would require residents, schools and businesses to separate paper, glass, and compost from solid waste. Current law says cities and towns "may" set up recycling.

Speaking at a state legislative hearing, Steve Changaris of the National Waste and Recycling Association said there already is "near universal access to recycling in the state."

"We all want more and better recycling programs. We all want to have a sustainable future,” Changaris said. “But the mandatory nature of 2158 and Senate 1332 — we have some concerns with."

State Senator James Eldridge, who sponsored the Senate bill, said there is a current patchwork of municipal programs and “virtually no composting.”

Both bills call for municipal recycling programs to separate waste at landfills and transfer stations. They also would require owners of apartment buildings with three or more apartments to provide the means for tenants to recycle — such as providing plastic bins, or paying the cost of getting the recycling to the municipal transfer station.

Eldridge said one of the goals of the bill is “to make sure that every single resident, no matter their housing circumstance, would have access to recycling and composting.”

He said if the bill becomes law, it would require state funding to help cities and towns pay for recycling and composting.

Nancy Eve Cohen is a senior reporter focusing on Berkshire County. Earlier in her career she was NPR’s Midwest editor in Washington, D.C., managing editor of the Northeast Environmental Hub and recorded sound for TV networks on global assignments, including the war in Sarajevo and an interview with Fidel Castro.
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