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Waste Reduction & Recycling

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Repeat

Reducing Waste and Improving Our Recycling Rate Saves Money, Reduces Litter, and Conserves Natural Resouces

Most people haul their trash out to the curb or place it in a dumpster each week with little thought as to where their trash goes or what it costs to dispose of it. Yet each year, consumers, municipalities, and businesses in Massachusetts spend millions on solid waste disposal fees. The majority of this waste ends up in landfills or incinerators. 

According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, we incinerate about 60% of our trash each year, while about 40% goes to landfills. As recently as the 1980s, there were more than 300 operating landfills in Massachusetts. Today, we are down to 9 landfills, and some are due to reach capacity and close within the next few years. As a result, we are now shipping approximately 16% of our state's trash to other states. That's a costly and inefficient system.

While there is no silver-bullet solution, we can all take steps to reduce the amount of trash we each generate. Simple changes, such as using reusable beverage containers and shopping bags, can help. We can also step up efforts to promote recycling and educate people on how to recycle correctly.

Recycling as much solid waste as possible saves money for municipalities, taxpayers, and businesses. Recycling also creates jobs, reduces litter, and conserves natural resources.

Keep Massachusetts Beautiful supports and promotes all efforts to reduce consumption of single-use plastic and increase recycling rates in Massachusetts homes, schools, and businesses through a variety of programs, including:

  • An interactive educational program that empowers students and teachers to help the environment through waste reduction, recycling, composting, energy conservation, and pollution prevention.

  • A recycling assistance program that helps businesses and institutions maximize recycling, reuse, and food waste diversion opportunities.

  • Event organizers educate neighbors, friends, and colleagues about the benefits of recycling through thousands of recycling events across the U.S. on November 15 each year.

  • A friendly competition that promotes the creation of new recycling programs within K-12 schools and encourages schools that already recycle to increase their recycling rates.

  • A friendly competition and benchmarking tool for college and university recycling programs to promote waste reduction activities during an 8-week period each spring.

  • A national voluntary initiative challenging businesses, government agencies, schools, hospitals, and other institutions to commit to increasing workplace recycling by 10%.

  • A friendly competition for colleges and universities to promote waste reduction at their football games.