Mayoral Candidates Forum on August 20 to Address Sustainability Issues

Melrose, MA—Sustainable Melrose, a coalition of groups focused on improving environmental and quality-of-life issues in Melrose, will sponsor a mayoral candidates’ forum on August 20 at 7:00 p.m. at the Melrose High School’s Learning Commons (360 Lynn Fells Parkway). All members of the public are invited to attend.

The “Melrose Mayoral Candidates Forum on Sustainability” is organized with the support of the League of Women Voters and is the only announced candidates’ forum prior to the September 17th runoff election. The focus of the forum will be the many opportunities for Melrose to improve its sustainability, environmental stewardship, and quality of life.

“Melrose has made great strides toward improving sustainability and quality of resident life, but much work remains to be done,” says Jeana McNeil, a member of the Melrose Recycling Committee and a participant in the Sustainable Melrose committee planning the forum. “The impacts of climate change are facing us now, recycling and waste management challenges are on the horizon, and decisions about zero-carbon energy use, open space preservation and access, and safe and livable streets for all residents are on the minds of thousands of Melrosians.

“Managing these changes successfully will be a major constituent demand,” McNeil adds. “We feel these issues raise important questions that more residents of the city need to be aware of, and that our future leadership must address.”

The coalition of Sustainable Melrose groups includes the following non-partisan civic organizations, representing a broad cross-section of thousands of Melrose residents: the Melrose Energy Commission; the Melrose Pedestrian & Bicycle Advisory Committee; the Melrose Recycling Committee; the Melrose Conservation Commission; the Friends of the Fells Middlesex Fells Reservation; the Ell Pond Improvement Council; Community Garden; Melrose Native; the Melrose Unitarian Universalist Church’s Green Sanctuary Program; and Sally Frank’s Farmers’ Market.

For this event, Sustainable Melrose is adopting the format used by the League of Women Voters-Melrose in their traditional candidates’ forums. A moderator will present five or six questions to the candidates, and each candidate will have two minutes to answer each question. The candidates will not have the opportunity to respond to the other candidates, but each will be able to present a short concluding statement at the end of the session on the topics presented.

The “Melrose Mayoral Candidates Forum on Sustainability” will also be videotaped for re-broadcast on MMTV. The event is free and open to the public. However, pre-registration is appreciated and can be done via this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/melrose-mayoral-forum-on-sustainability-tickets-65115410947.

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Recycling Committee to Sponsor Talk: “Loving Less Plastic”

The Melrose Recycling Committee (MRC) announces that it will sponsor a talk and discussion this summer addressing opportunities for people and organizations to reduce the volume of plastic products they use in their households and business operations. The event will take place at the Milano Senior Center on July 10 at 7 p.m.

The featured speaker for the July 10 event will be Cambridge-based artist Freedom Baird, who was a contributor to MRC’s “Less Plastic is Fantastic” speaker series in 2017. During the July 10 event, Ms. Baird will once again address the issue of plastic waste in a talk titled “Loving Less Plastic.”

The event comes at a time when increased attention is being paid to the problems of plastic waste in the environment, and especially our oceans, where plastics break down into by-products that are showing up in the food chain, with yet-to-be-determined but potentially harmful health impacts. Plastic wastes generated by Americans—notably packaging and single-use items like water bottles—are also finding their way to third world countries, where they are often burned in open, uncontrolled settings and cause significant air pollution. Canada and the European Union have recently taken major steps to limit or ban the production of single-use plastic products.

“With this talk and discussion we’ll take a look at how organizations and institutions can embrace sustainability in every aspect of their operations, consider ways to love less plastic in our day-to-day lives, and take a look at some present-day artists who are working with themes of plastic, consumerism, and sustainability,” says Ms. Baird.

“Beyond the discussion of recycling or reusing, we can look creatively at reducing petroleum-based plastic and consider the impact of the materials we use in our daily lives,” says Robin Snyder-Drummond, the MRC volunteer who is organizing the event. “We’re glad Freedom Baird will return; the 2017 talk was very well received, and we still have discussions about it with Melrosians.”

A practicing artist with training in drawing, sculpture, metal-smithing, and other areas, Ms. Baird also serves as a consultant to the faculty of Tufts University in Somerville, specializing in the area of educational technologies. She has served as a consultant to and instructor for several other organizations, such as the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston’s Children’s Hospital, and Cambridge Community Television. In 2016, she received a Master of Fine Arts degree in interdisciplinary art from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

The Milano Senior Center is located at 201 West Foster Street in Melrose.

First of Two 2019 Swap Days in Melrose to be Held on June 15

The first of two Swap Days in 2019 will take place on June 15 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the municipal parking lot behind Memorial Hall and the Fire Station on Main Street. The event is run by the Melrose Recycling Committee in partnership with the Melrose Department of Public Works.

Swap Day is a community reuse event that provides an opportunity to save reusable items from being discarded and give them a new life and a new home. You don’t have to bring something to take something. And if you do leave something, don’t feel that you have to take something away. If you are looking to “de-clutter,” this is a good opportunity to give new life to items that may no longer have a place in your home but that have not outlived their usefulness. If you are moving in to Melrose, or just need certain items, here’s an opportunity to find what you are looking for while sticking to a tight budget.

All items must be clean, only gently used and able to be carried by one person. All items will be inspected and approved before entering the event. Please enter the parking lot in between Memorial Hall and the Fire Station and follow the directions of the staff on site.

Items not swapped will be donated to charitable organizations to the maximum extent possible.

There is one important operational change in this year’s Swap Day: Items will not be accepted for drop-off after 11 a.m. This is to reduce the volume of items that have to be picked up afterwards. Charitable organizations don’t necessarily take all of the different types of items that could be left over, and they face more restrictions than in the recent past. This means that some leftover items might have to be tossed in the trash—something we all would like to avoid!

Although there may be some changes to the lists of acceptable and unacceptable items, for now, please follow the guidelines presented here and set aside items accordingly.

Acceptable items including the following:

Clothes and textiles, which in addition to shirts, pants, blouses, etc., may include purses, bags, jewelry, scarves, coats, gloves, hats, backpacks, totes, shoes, and sandals.

Books, CDs, DVDs: Books can include textbooks. CDs and DVDs should be in their original labelled cases and not scratched. Be advised that there are fewer outlets for books than in the past.

Sports equipment, including balls, bats, rackets, and roller blades.

School/office supplies, including notebooks, pens, pencils, markers, staplers, scissors, file folders, and craft items.

Household items such as small furniture (nothing upholstered) and home décor. This can include kitchen items such as dishware, pots, and pans; small electronics such as blenders and toasters (in working condition); small furniture such as tables and chairs (not upholstered, as noted); and artwork and décor, such as pictures and picture frames, baskets, vases, and clocks.

Small electronics, such as DVD players, radios, phones, and computer accessories. NO TVs and monitors. Those can be dropped off at the DPW City Yard during the week and during Saturday events.

For a complete list of items, visit http://www.melrecyclingcommittee.wordpress.com.

Items that are NOT acceptable include:
* Large appliances and metal goods
* Upholstered furniture
* Large electronics such as TVs and monitors (as noted)
* Rugs
* Stuffed toys and pillows.

The Melrose Recycling Committee would like to emphasize that this is not intended as an event for operators of consignment shops to re-stock their shelves. Swap Day is designed as an event allowing people to de-clutter or to find items that they need or want for their homes.

The second Swap Day of 2019 will take place on September 28.

Around the Continent: A Mixed Bag for Recycling Programs

By George Stubbs

Due primarily to market dynamics, municipal recycling programs around North America have been experiencing some upheaval over the past couple of years. This disruption in many jurisdictions has inspired some over-heated media reports about the demise of recycling—reports describing chaos, gloom, and doom in the recycling industry, and ridiculously identifying recycling as a cause of our waste problems rather than as an important part of a comprehensive solution. I have addressed this hysteria in previous blog posts.

On whether the recycling industry is “doomed”: There have been some rollbacks of programs in some municipalities, but the news is not all bad. Some municipalities are getting programs back on their feet. Meanwhile, there have been new investments in secondary materials processing capacity, as I also covered in previous blogs, and which have continued to proceed apace since my last post.

What follows is a brief roundup of some recent developments in municipal recycling programs around North America, drawn from reporting in the April 2019 issue of Resource Recycling magazine, a valuable source of information about what’s really happening in the recycling industry. The news is mixed, but there are encouraging developments. On the downside are program rollbacks reflecting changes in the viability of local or regional markets for secondary materials. On the upside are campaigns to clean up the recycling stream—as Melrose has done. Other developments include program expansions and efforts to identify new classes of waste that should be diverted from landfills and incinerators.

Bossier Parish, Louisiana: Restarted its drop-off recycling program for paper and cardboard, omitting plastic due to a lack of buyers.

Bowling Green, Kentucky: Purchased a mobile recycling trailer that will be available for public events in the city.

Burnham, Maine: Cut all funding for the city’s recycling program, which formerly received $5,000 per year. Officials cited rising recycling costs and pointed to a cheaper energy-recovery disposal option.

Indian River County, Florida: Launched an outreach campaign instructing residents not to place plastic bags in their curbside recycling bins. The campaign also includes an expansion of local drop-off options.

Little Rock, Arkansas: Stopped collecting glass in the curbside recycling program after the city’s hauler removed the material from its accepted list, citing glass contamination problems at the MRF [materials recovery facility].

Monongalia County, West Virginia: Stopped accepting plastic bags at its drop-off recycling center and began requiring cardboard boxes to be flattened, pointing to market changes necessitating a cleaner output product.

Opelika, Alabama: Launched an outreach campaign to reduce contamination in the city’s curbside recycling stream, after the city found that more than 60 percent of curbside carts contained contamination earlier this year.

Presque Isle County, Michigan: Resumed cardboard and plastic recycling service on a regular schedule after previously limiting collection due to market challenges.

Roseburg, Oregon: Will no longer collect glass in its curbside recycling program but will begin accepting plastic containers again, citing challenges in downstream buyers.

Sullivan County, New York: Stopped accepting plastic recyclables and multiple drop-off locations around the county, after a local MRF operator shut down operations.

Tofino, British Columbia: Is gearing up to ban plastic bags and straws as well as charge a minimum retail price for paper bags and other reusable options.

Many thanks for the update, Resource Recycling! We hope to catch up with you again next month!

Defending Recycling II

By George Stubbs

Since our previous “Defending Recycling” post, the wave of media hysteria about the “crisis” in the U.S. recycling industry has continued to crash. Most notably, the New York Times picked up the crisis narrative on March 17, in an article titled “As Costs Surge, Cities’ Recycling Becomes Refuse” (An on-line version was published a day earlier). The Boston Globe, which picks up many of the Times‘s stories (although the Times sold the Globe several years ago), subsequently published the article on March 18.

Prior to the publishing of the Times article, but subsequent to CNN and Atlantic pieces that we had taken to task in “Defending Recycling,” Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham weighed in with a splendid example of reductionist, either/or argument. Recycling “can’t fix what really ails us,” the column’s headline screams. Reducing what we purchase and then generate as waste is something we should do, she correctly points out, but in her final sentence, she claims that “unburying us is the way to lasting change.”

It’s the “the” that irks. This silver bullet thinking neglects the multifaceted nature of our waste problem and the fact that, though reduce we must, we have generated lots of stuff and will generate a lot more stuff, and we’re running out of places to responsibly put it. And many of us aren’t dealing with our waste responsibly, as the plastics-in-the-ocean problem so tragically demonstrates.

Recycling thus remains part of the solution to our unburying. We will need to take the paper, plastic, glass, and other materials we are generating as waste and do something with them that further embeds a circular economy.

Fortunately, a couple of recent articles have taken a more reflective and positive look at recycling, while recognizing that the industry faces challenges. In Naked Capitalism, a blog that aims to present critical thinking about financial and economic topics, CityLab Editorial Fellow Nicole Javorsky relates “How American recycling is changing now that China won’t take it.” (CityLab conducts research and publishes articles on how cities work and the challenges they face.)

Ms. Javorsky acknowledges that several municipalities have rolled back their recycling operations in the face of China’s National Sword policy, which established stringent contamination standards that have effectively blocked the import of U.S.-sourced secondary materials. She reports, however, that other municipalities have stepped up their recycling efforts, often in collaboration with non-profit recycling organizations. Many of these efforts focus on getting the contamination out of the recycling bins, as the Melrose Recycling Committee is trying to do here in Melrose.

Ms. Javorsky describes similar efforts in other jurisdictions, like Washington, D.C. and Montgomery County in Maryland. “China’s policy hasn’t led Montgomery County to stop recycling anything. It continues to generate revenues from all the materials it recycles,” Eileen Kao, chief of waste and recycling for the county’s Department of Environmental Protection, told Javorsky. The author concludes: “[T]here are strategies that local programs can use, either separately or in combination, to find their way back to health and continue recycling waste. China’s policy change may not represent the much-feared ‘end of recycling’ in the United States so much as an inflection point.”

In another article, published on March 26 in Resource Recycling magazine, reporter Colin Staub suggests that rumors about recycling’s twilight are belied by a number of new investments in secondary materials processing capacity. Recycling industry professionals, Mr. Staub writes, say they are seeing “a continuing commitment to recycling, still-functioning markets and investments in infrastructure.”

Waste Management, the waste industry’s largest hauler and operator of materials recovery facilities (MRFs), is particularly upbeat. That’s perhaps to be expected, but it can point to numbers. “We are seeing our municipal customers focus efforts on reducing contamination in their collection stream rather than eliminating their recycling programs altogether,” Susan Robinson, the company’s federal public affairs director, told Staub. “In fact, of our over 5,000 municipal contract customers, we have only identified two that have chosen to pause or stop their recycling programs to date.” (To read Waste Management’s full March 2019 recycling message, click on Fact Sheet Recycling and Marketing March 2019v2 (1)).

Then there’s the critical addition of new capacity for re-processing secondary materials. In “Defending Recycling I,” we cited ND Paper and Pace Glass as two recycling companies that are investing millions of dollars in new capacity for paper and glass, respectively. The Resource Recycling article mentions more. For example, Pratt Industries, which uses 100 percent recycled fiber in its corrugated packaging products, has built a new single-stream MRF in Atlanta. Pratt is also building a paper mill in Ohio that will process 425,000 tons of recovered fiber per year.

Waste Management says it spent $110 million in 2018 on recycling carts, collection vehicles, and facility upgrades. And in Chicago, the company is building a state-of-the-art MRF. Staub cites more such developments in his article.

The criticisms of recycling take two forms. First, the industry as a market is in crisis mode and may not survive. We can see that this narrative is, to say the least, exaggerated and premature. Second, recycling has not solved our problems with hyper-consumption and waste generation, therefore it is part of the problem, and we should stop doing it. The logic here is elusive. We should reduce and reuse, to be sure, but we have generated lots of waste, will continue to generate lots of waste, and we’re running out of places to put it. “Reduce, reuse, and recycle” isn’t just a clever slogan. It’s a succinct statement of a necessary strategy for dealing with our waste generation issues.

Defending Recycling

By George Stubbs

There have been recent media stories suggesting that recycling is a waste of time and energy, or is at the very least an idea that has outlived its usefulness.

To be sure, recycling is a segment of the waste management industry that is under stress. But these media reports only capture bits and pieces of the story, and potentially do a disservice by suggesting that recycling is merely a “feel good” exercise that compounds our problems.

One of those media stories was a report in late February on CNN. The piece opened with some disturbing anecdotes about the consequences of recycling’s current dynamics, such as low commodity prices and China’s purity standards (which have locked out imports of recyclables, or as the recycling industry refers to them, secondary materials). These conditions have led to cities like Philadelphia paying for recycling services rather than being paid for the secondary materials collected.

The news anchor then turned to an “expert”—Trevor Zink, assistant professor of management at Loyola Marymount University—who poured cold water on recycling using some shoddy logic. He noted first that recycling—the process of collecting and reprocessing secondary materials like glass, paper, aluminum, and plastic—is not entirely environmentally benign. Of course it isn’t—no commercial or industrial process is. Who thinks otherwise? To put a finer point on it, Zink provided no comparisons with the processes involved in making products from virgin materials.

He went on to flatter himself as an environmentalist, sanctimoniously declaring that he doesn’t recycle. The reason why was a good example of reductionist, either/or, all-or-nothing thinking that gets us nowhere. He claimed that the availability of recycling encourages us to keep consuming (possibly true, but no evidence provided). In essence, he reasons, because recycling has not been a silver-bullet solution to the problem of our hyper-consumerism, it is part of the problem.

There are no single silver bullets. There are strategies for solving problems that encompass combinations of necessary measures that aren’t by themselves sufficient. Should we address our hyper-consumerism? Of course. Should we stop recycling because we consume too much? Of course not, any more than we should ditch energy efficiency even though improving miles per gallon (mpg) in motor vehicles or reducing the electricity consumption in appliances has, at times, led to a “rebound effect”: People tend to drive more and plug in more stuff as the energy costs fall (thanks to greater efficiency).

Should we be doing a better job of selling the virtues of recycling? Yes indeed. We need to defend recycling as one among several measures for addressing the fact that we are drawing down our supply of natural resources on the front end and running out of space to dispose of end-of-life products on the back end. We need to build a circular economy, and recycling is an essential part of the solution, even if it isn’t the whole solution.

Another part of the solution is something that, unfortunately, will be the true heavy lift—convincing people to buy less stuff (and buy stuff with less packaging). This was one of the take-aways of a recent article in The Atlantic that has garnered a good deal of attention. The article—whose title ominously asks, “Is This the End of Recycling?”—rightly notes that many U.S. cities and towns want to do the right thing, but they can’t afford it in the current economic climate. Waste management companies are now charging for recycling services because they have no more room to store recyclables, which are piling up because they can no longer export them to China, thanks to that country’s stringent contamination standards.

The rarely told part of the story, of course, is that these companies have had limited domestic options for sending secondary materials for reprocessing. There’s a lot of China bashing without a description of the conditions that led to our dependence on China in the first place.

To a large extent, China’s demand for our recyclables propped up the U.S. recycling industry for many years until the enactment of the purity standards–the so-called China National Sword policy. There are some nuances to the story, however–nuances that media reports on recycling often overlook in their bashing of China and the U.S. recycling industry, and that help make the case for continued recycling.

For example, U.S. recyclers do not and did not send cardboard and #1, #2, and #5 plastic containers to China, as there are good domestic markets for those materials. The same is true of metal cans, especially aluminum.

Glass has always been managed domestically, but for New England, the available re-processing capacity is limited (there are hopeful signs–see below). In addition, finding markets for paper and mixed plastics–#3, #4, and #7–is challenging. (For those who are wondering, #6 plastic is polystyrene, which is hard to recycle as well.)

All plastic film, including plastic grocery bags, presents a significant problem for our domestic recycling facilities. According to a recycling expert at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), this is not a new problem, but there was no pushback on communities by recycling companies when China and other entities were not pushing back on the recyclers. In any case, the expert says, it remains very important for states, municipalities, and organizations like the Melrose Recycling Committee to communicate the importance of keeping contamination out of recycling–of “recycling smart,” in other words.

The upshot of this lengthy discussion about U.S.-China dynamics in recycling is a part of the story that many media reports are ignoring or glossing over: America, the champion of capitalism as the great engine of innovation, has largely dropped the ball on innovation in recycling, and China picked it up. Now China has broad capacity to re-process secondary materials. And not only that: the country’s growing middle class generates all or most of the secondary materials this re-processing infrastructure needs, so it no longer needs our discarded stuff.

China’s newly established, stringent contamination standards may thus be a kind of market protection strategy: A flood of foreign-sourced materials would reduce prices that domestic generators could demand for their recyclables. But so what? Whatever you may think of China’s moves on recycling, the answer isn’t to open that market back up, or to find other foreign markets. The answer is to innovate at home.

There is some sign that action to improve domestic reprocessing capacity is taking place, including actions that should help New England. Last June, Pace Glass began construction on what the company says will be the largest glass recycling facility in the world. The 250,000-square-foot plant, located in North Andover Township, New Jersey, will process recycled glass and deliver the cullet product to glass makers in New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. The operation will employ about 80 people at the plant, along with 60 drivers.

Also, ND Paper announced last October that it will invest $300 million in the addition of recycled-pulp production lines at its recently acquired virgin paper mills in Biron, Wisconsin, and Rumford, Maine. Incidentally, ND Paper is the U.S. subsidiary of Chinese paper giant Nine Dragons. So it seems China will once again be helping the U.S. recycling industry—this time, here at home.

One important note–and reiterating a point made earlier: even if we do revive a robust domestic re-processing industry, we will still have to reduce the contamination of the recyclables stream. Our businesses are just as inconvenienced by contamination as the Chinese businesses.

Responding to the issues raised in the Atlantic article, the MassDEP Public Affairs Office put the situation quite well: “We are in a down market—yes. Probably the worst in the past 20 years. But recycling is a commodity and has always been susceptible to market fluctuations. If one looked at the costs of recycling over time, say the past 10 years, you will see savings over disposal costs. The key is not to panic with responses that can have negative long-term impacts.” MassDEP added, “As important as recycling is to a cost-effective solid waste management system, one should not ignore the additional environmental and public health benefits of reducing solid waste disposal.”

Which brings us back to the central point of the Atlantic article: We need to consume less. As the article notes, in 2015 (the most recent year for which EPA data is available), we Americans generated 262.4 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW), which represented a 4.5 percent increase over 2010 and a 60 percent increase over 1985. We consume massively and toss our stuff at the least sign of blemish or dysfunction. An “out of sight, out of mind” mentality still prevails. The cost will be reflected not only in rising prices for dwindling landfill space, but also in damage to the environment and public health, as organic waste in landfills breaks down into methane—a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide—and as toxic chemicals are released from incinerators and landfills into the air, water, and land.

We live in a market-oriented society, in which every industry experiences ups and downs. The recycling industry is no different. It is in a down cycle now, but there is hope that it will come back. Market societies also count on innovators to keep industries humming, and again, the recycling industry is no different. Innovation in recycling and re-processing will be absolutely necessary to deal with the wastes that are already filling our landfills and fouling our land, our waterways, and our oceans, and to deal with the waste that will continue to be generated, even if we are making great strides on consuming less. But we must not forget that conservation side to the coin—the imperative to use less. Recycling only encourages us to consume more if we fail to understand the whole story, and all of the consequences of our actions.

Multiple Environment Bills before Mass. Legislature

By George Stubbs

The Massachusetts state legislature has kicked off the 2019-2020 session with the introduction of numerous bills addressing environment and sustainability issues and concerns, including waste, energy, climate change, and pollution control. These bills include measures introduced or co-sponsored by Melrose’s representatives on Beacon Hill, Senator Jason Lewis (Democrat-5th Middlesex) and Representative Paul Brodeur (Democrat-32nd Middlesex).

Sen. Lewis recently joined with members of the Melrose Recycling Committee, the Melrose Energy Commission, and other member organizations of Sustainable Melrose to provide an update of environment and sustainability activities on Beacon Hill. Joining these groups were representatives of sustainability organizations in Wakefield. Rep. Brodeur was invited to come but could not join the discussion, as the Massachusetts House of Representatives was in an important session to determine the rules and committee assignments for the coming legislative term.

Which, if any, of the newly introduced bills makes it through to passage is difficult to say so early in the legislative session, when the respective chambers have only just set the rules of order and committee assignments. Thousands of bills are introduced in any given session; fewer than 100 typically make it to the finish line—and still fewer are bills of sweeping significance. But this is the season of hope—and action.

One measure that has a fighting chance is a bill that would limit the use of single-use plastic bags state-wide. A similar measure passed in the Senate during the last session but did not make it to the floor of the House—reflecting the dark mystery of legislative sausage-making embedded in the fact that, for reasons requiring some “inside baseball” to understand, the Speaker of the House (Robert DeLeo, Democrat-Winthrop) and the President of the Senate (Karen Spilka, Democrat-Ashland) wield significant power in determining which bills come to the floors of their respective chambers for a vote.

The plastic-bag measure has been re-introduced during the current session as HD134 in the House. As of February 6, the bill had upwards of 90 co-sponsors (there are 40 members of the Massachusetts Senate and 160 members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives; any of the 200 legislators may co-sponsor any proposed legislation in either chamber). By all accounts, the Senate will pass the bill again, and with a large number of cosponsors, to go along with more than 90 cities and towns across the state that have enacted their own plastic bag bans, there is high confidence that HD134 will pass the House and be signed by Governor Charlie Baker.

Several other newly introduced bills address environmental and sustainability-related issues in the current session. During the recent discussion with Sustainable Melrose, Sen. Lewis handed out a list of such bills that have been introduced in the state Senate, with short descriptions. Those bills include the following:

  • An act relative to energy savings efficiency (Energy Save Act, SD767): This bill would establish updated energy and water efficiency standards for common household appliances.
  • An act to reduce solid waste, increase recycling, and generate municipal cost savings (SD62): This bill would implement a number of strategies to reduce solid waste and increase recycling, including setting specific municipal recycling performance targets, strengthening oversight and enforcement of waste bans, strengthening regulation of waste haulers, and improving the collection and reporting of solid waste data.
  • An act to expand the Green Communities program to mitigate climate change (SD1710): This bill would expand the existing Green Communities program with a new designation, called “Green Plus.” To achieve this designation and access additional grant funding from the state, communities would need to establish a greenhouse gas (GHG) baseline and plan to reduce their carbon emissions over five years.
  • Resolve to protect pollinator habitat (SD61): This measure would establish a commission to study opportunities for improving pollinator (bee) health by increasing and enhancing native pollinator habitat. Such opportunities could include limits on the use of neonicotinoids, a type of insecticide widely believed by biologists to be responsible for significant honey bee mortality in the state and around the country.
  • An act to explore alternative funding sources to ensure safe and reliable transportation (SD870): This measure would create a voluntary vehicle miles traveled (VMT) pilot program to evaluate ways to protect data collected, ensure privacy, and vary pricing based on time of day, type of road, proximity to transit, participation in carpooling, income of the driver, and vehicle fuel.

For more information on these bills and others, please visit the Massachusetts State Legislature’s website. Read up and please contact your representative or senator if you support any of these measures.

Recycling Committee staff compiled the following list of environment- and sustainability-related bills introduced into the House of Representatives for consideration during the current session: