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State seeking solid waste input

Locals raise concerns at DEP hearing

Kirstie Pecci, left, talks to John Pulawski and James Sottile shortly before a press conference outside the Worcester DEP office Tuesday. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
July 27, 2010
WORCESTER — Several local residents made themselves heard at the state's Solid Waste Master Plan public hearing Tuesday, urging the Department of Environmental Protection to slash 25 years off its timeframe for reducing trash by 80 percent.

"[The year] 2050 seems a long way off from now," said Sturbridge Board of Health Chairman Linda Cocalis, arguing that goal needs to be reached by 2025 or earlier.

Sturbridge resident Kirstie Pecci agreed, noting the draft plan is "an important step forward," but "doesn't go forward fast enough" to address the state's share of the ongoing "global crisis" of climate change and resource consumption.

The two of them led a small press conference outside DEP's Worcester office before Tuesday's public hearing. They praised the agency for its effort to seek and listen to public concerns, but said its "Path to Zero Waste" plan "doesn't go there." Specifically, they objected to language they interpreted as essentially forcing DEP to "build more landfills or incinerate more waste to meet their goals," Pecci added, expressing concern that doing so would release more toxic materials and not really address "the sheer volume of what we're throwing away."

Pecci later noted New York's goal is to "divert" 90 percent of its trash by 2019, while the Massachusetts plan calls for just 30 percent by 2020.

According to DEP Solid Waste Program Chief John Fischer, who drafted the plan based on a series of previous hearings and work-group meetings, this is the agency's third 10-year plan. It "focuses on trying to dramatically increase recycling and reuse" of materials by targeting such things as producer responsibility, expanding composting, promoting pay-as-you-throw programs, requiring trash haulers to provide recycling, improving waste ban enforcement and other things. He said some of those things were sparked, ironically, by the failure of the current plan to significantly increase recycling — although the last 10 years have seen roughly flat rates of disposal, recycling has also remained flat.

See Thursday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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