Beginning Tuesday, new waste ban regulations have gone into effect in Massachusetts, as part of a larger statewide initiative to reduce excess trash disposal and promote reuse and recycling.
The new ban prohibits disposing of mattresses and textiles, with the aim of taking advantage of recycling and reusing the materials. Each year throughout the state, more than 200,000 tons of textiles find their way into the trash, and then landfills. Through the new regulations, old clothing, towels, linens, belts, bags, and shoes are slated to be recycled via textile recovery organizations that repurpose the materials into carpet padding and insulation, among other things.
Mattresses, the release states, also can often be broken down and recycled — even those consisting of pieces of metal (springs) or wood (slats).
Per the release, “Massachusetts generates approximately 600,000 unwanted mattresses per year, about 200,000 of them from residents.” Through grants, the state has been able to establish over 100 mattress recycling programs, with the goal of increasing both capacity to manage the volume of mattresses and job opportunities.
Despite the new statewide regulations, many Vineyarders may not notice much of a difference when it comes to getting rid of an old mattress. Beginning in 2020, Martha’s Vineyard Refuse Disposal and Resource Recovery has prohibited mattresses from being thrown into the dump; rather, a designated adjacent container has been in place to take the unwanted beds.
District manager Don Hatch told The Times that after said containers are filled, the mattresses are taken via trucks to Rochester’s Southeastern Massachusetts (SEMASS) Resource Recovery Facility, where the waste is converted into energy through the steam generated by combustion. According to their website, SEMASS annually processes more than a million tons of waste that would otherwise have ended up in landfills.
Residents Islandwide can get rid of their old mattresses at the MV Refuse Disposal and Resource Recovery District located in Edgartown at 750 Edgartown-West Tisbury Road. The fee for disposing of mattresses and box springs are $50 and $10, respectively.
Additionally, per the press release, the codified regulation lowers the threshold for how much food waste can be disposed of weekly by businesses and institutions to half a ton.
Food waste accounts for more than one-fifth of the refuse accumulated in the state, the release states, which has prompted thousands of businesses to already enact more sustainable practices in the state’s 2021 food waste collection program.
A press release issued on Tuesday by the Baker-Polito administration cited Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card: “In order to meet the important goals outlined in the 2030 Solid Waste Master Plan, the Baker-Polito administration has focused on reducing waste disposal, while also increasing recycling, diversion, reuse, and composting measures … These regulations and the supporting strategies that are being implemented today will continue our nation-leading efforts, and jump-start waste diversion work that is occurring across the commonwealth.”
These changes are part of the state’s 2030 Solid Waste Master Plan, which is working to reduce waste disposal by 30 percent by 2030, and 90 percent by 2050.