Waste Bans and Your Business
In an effort to reduce the volume and toxicity of trash disposed of in Massachusetts and ensure consistent volumes of materials for recycling markets, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (Mass DEP) has implemented waste bans on certain hazardous, recyclable, and compostable materials. The restrictions (or bans) on disposal began in 1990, and material types have been added over time to eliminate the most prevalent materials in the waste stream for which there are viable alternatives to disposal.
Current Waste Ban Materials:
- Recyclable Paper and Cardboard
- Glass/Aluminum/Metal/Plastic Containers
- Leaf and Yard Waste
- Commercial Organics
- Cathode Ray Tubes (TV’s and Computer Monitors)
- White Goods (Major Appliances)
- Asphalt Pavement, Brick, Concrete, Wood, Metal and Clean Gypsum Wallboard – often referred to as Construction/Demolition Materials (C&D)
- Lead Acid Batteries
These bans apply to municipal, commercial and industrial waste loads disposed of, contracted for disposal, or transferred for disposal through Massachusetts facilities. The haulers and generators of these materials are responsible for ensuring that the banned materials do not end up in the waste loads. If banned materials end up in a load of trash, “failed loads” may occur at a disposal site.
A waste ban on commercial organic materials went into effect on October 1, 2014 and applies to all businesses and institutions disposing of one ton or more of food waste per week. Learn more about this new ban and the assistance available through RecyclingWorks to start a food waste diversion program.
For guidance on how to estimate food waste disposal amounts at a facility, see our Food Waste Estimation Guide.
To help businesses comply with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (Mass DEP) Waste Bans, RecyclingWorks developed the following sector-specific tip sheets, available in both English and Spanish. Tip sheets for additional business sectors will be posted below as they are available.
Waste Ban Compliance Tips for Food Manufacturers and Distributors [English]
Waste Ban Compliance Tips for Colleges and Universities [English]
All Massachusetts waste disposal facilities must file a Waste Ban Compliance Plan with MassDEP. This plan outlines how the facility will monitor and inspect waste it receives and how they will handle any banned materials received. These facilities are required to issue a failed load notification to the hauler and generator, if known, and may charge a handling fee to remove and recycle the banned material.
MassDEP also has inspectors that perform unannounced waste ban inspections at disposal facilities to review records and monitor incoming waste loads. If MassDEP inspectors find waste ban violations at a facility, they will take enforcement action against both haulers and generators of those materials.
What happens after a load fails?
After a load fails, it is important to determine why it happened. It could have been a mistake, a more systemic failure within an existing recycling system, or a complete lack of a recycling system in place to deal with these banned items.
The generator and hauler can work together to resolve the issue by adjusting or adding recycling services and providing trainings to employees to maximize participation. Clear signage using pictures or images can bridge language barriers for proper materials handling around the facility and at the dumpsters. It is also important to make sure that the dumpster is secure from unauthorized access. Consider locking it or enclosing the area with fencing.
You should request that your hauler provide ongoing feedback including notification of any failed loads and additional opportunities to divert banned materials from disposal. If your current hauler is not able to help you, you can find additional recycling service providers through RecyclingWorks searchable database.
- For more information about Massachusetts waste bans and regulations, see MassDEP’s website.
- For best management practices on contracting for trash, recycling, and food waste hauling services, see Hauler Contracting Guidance.
- For more information on recycling specific materials, go to our Materials Guidance page.
- For answers to frequently asked questions about the commercial organics waste ban, see MassDEP’s guidance.
- For more regulatory information on the waste bans and how to comply with them, please contact John Fischer (MassDEP) at 617-292-5632 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For information on diverting banned materials and assistance in complying with the waste bans, please contact the RecyclingWorks Hotline at (888) 254-5525 or email@example.com.