Health Board Set To Mandate Recycling
By: Brian Kehrl
The Mashpee Board of Health is preparing to adopt a new regulation requiring all residential and commercial property owners in town to recycle, with heavy fines allowed for those who break the rule.
The board received a green light to move forward with the draft regulation, which it has been considering for more than six months, from a subcommittee formed by selectmen to review the town’s solid waste policies, Health Agent Glen E. Harrington said.
The health board discussed the regulation at its meeting on Wednesday evening this week, with the intention of adopting it at its next meeting, on November 18.
No formal public hearing has been scheduled on the regulation, which would drastically change the town’s approach to recycling, but board members said after the meeting this week that they will take public comment at the meeting later this month.
The regulations will not be published before the board takes them up in two weeks.
“There was a comfort level on the subcommittee where the board could go ahead with the recycling regulation,” Mr. Harrington said after the meeting this week.
Mr. Harrington, who sat in on the subcommittee meetings with representatives of the board of health, the Mashpee Board of Selectmen, the Mashpee Finance Committee, and several town departments, declined to offer specifics about what else the subcommittee approved, saying that selectmen will be discussing at a future meeting a broader plan to deal with both trash and recycling.
According to a draft of the new recycling regulation and the board’s discussion this week, the new rules will go into effect on January 1 and be fully enforced on May 1, with the first four months described as a “grace period.” Condominium associations will likely have to implement their plans earlier, possibly by April 1.
The board’s current regulation requires trash haulers to offer recycling but makes no mention of requiring residents and businesses to recycle.
According to the draft regulation, “The board recognizes that this regulation may have a severe impact upon the daily habits of the citizens in respect to solid waste disposal and recycling practices.”
“We know this is a sea change,” said Burton Kaplan, co-chairman of the board of health.
Residents will be required to recycle all materials listed on the state “waste ban,” a nearly 20-year-old state regulation that covers materials from the common, like paper, plastic, and aluminum, to the more rare, like mercury thermometers and tires.
The regulation proposes fines of up to $300 per offense for violations by residents, and up to $1,000 per offense for violations by trash haulers.
Trash hauling companies, condominium associations, and large commercial developments will each be required to appoint “recycling coordinators,” who will serve as a sort of liaison to the board of health and be responsible for filing recycling plans with the board.
Private trash haulers are not allowed to charge for recycling beyond what would be charged for garbage pickup.
Exactly how the measure will be enforced, both at the Mashpee Transfer Station and with those who hire haulers to pick up their garbage, is still unclear. But the board briefly discussed the possibility of requiring clear plastic bags and increasing spot checks at the transfer station.
“Any member of the board of health, its agents or other person(s) designated by the Board of Health may enforce this section,” according to the regulation.
Kalliope E. Egloff, co-chairman of the health board, said the town will not face fines for not meeting the minimum tonnage requirements defined in its contract with SEMASS waste-to-energy facility in Rochester, where all of the town’s trash goes, as long as the town can document that the decreased trash is the result of increased recycling.
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