Waste Bans and Your Business

Massachusetts Department of Environmental ProtectionIn 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 (MassDEP) 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.

Important Waste Ban Regulation Changes

Effective November 1, 2022, the MassDEP added textiles and mattresses to the below list of materials that are banned from disposal, and lowering the threshold for the existing commercial organics disposal ban so that it applies to businesses and institutions generating one-half ton or more food waste per week. (Since October 1, 2014 this disposal ban has applied to businesses and institutions generating one ton or more food waste per week). One-page flyers with information on waste ban changes are available in English and Spanish.

Below are MassDEP and RecyclingWorks recorded presentations from the 2022 RecyclingWorks Fall Forum that highlight the waste ban changes and resources for textiles, mattresses, and food waste diversion.

MassDEP Waste Bans Implementation Overview

Resources for Textiles, Mattresses, and Food Waste Diversion

To view the full recording and other materials from RecyclingWorks’ Forums click here.

Current Waste Ban Materials

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. Effective November 1, 2022 the MassDEP lowered the threshold for the commercial organics ban so that it applies to businesses and institutions generating one-half ton or more food waste per week. Learn more about the commercial organics disposal 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 MassDEP 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. If you are interested in having any of these materials translated into another language, please contact RecyclingWorks at (888) 254-5525 or info@recyclingworksma.com.

PDFWaste Ban Compliance Tips for Retailers [English] [Español]


Waste Ban Compliance Tips for Restaurants [English] [Español]


Waste Ban Compliance Tips for Food Manufacturers and Distributors [English] [Español]

PDFWaste Ban Compliance Tips for Colleges and Universities [English] [Español]


Waste Ban Compliance Tips for Property Managers [English] [Español]

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.

Additional Resources:

  • 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 john.fischer@state.ma.us.
  • For information on diverting banned materials and assistance in complying with the waste bans, please contact the RecyclingWorks Hotline at (888) 254-5525 or info@recyclingworksma.com.