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Massachusetts considering gasification and pyrolysis projects

December 18, 2012

By Jeremy Carroll

Massachusetts is considering altering its MSW incinerator moratorium to encourage the development of alternative technologies, including gasification and pyrolysis.

The Department of Environmental Protection is seeking public comment on the plan. The plan would allow for 350,000 tons of waste per year to be disposed of using gasification or pyrolysis, if the master plan’s disposal reduction goals are met.

The plan outlines an effort to divert 450,000 tons of food waste and organic materials by 2020 and build 50 megawatts of renewable energy from anaerobic digestion of that diverted waste. Starting in 2014, the plan would phase in a ban on food wastes from food processors and large institutions such as colleges, hotels and grocery stores.

“The Commonwealth’s target is to reduce waste disposal by 2 million tons per year by 2020, so we must use all of the tools available to us in order to reach our goal,” said Rick Sullivan, environmental affairs secretary, in a statement. “With increased recycling, composting, waste reduction and re-use, as well as utilizing cleaner new technologies, we can improve the quality of life for all residents.”

Proposed alternative technologies projects would have to meet stringent recycling, emissions and energy efficiency standards, and new facilities would be subject to the same site assignment rules as other solid waste facilities.

“This slight modification to the moratorium makes sense, because it gives our cities and towns the opportunity to take advantage of promising new technologies, while at the same time protecting our environment and complementing, rather than replacing, recycling,” said Sen. Marc R. Pacheco, Senate chair of the joint committee on environment, natural resources and agriculture, in a statement.

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