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lettes | Mass. confronts a burning question

Recycling trash still beats incineration

I APPLAUD Beth Daley for covering the state’s consideration of lifting its moratorium on waste incinerators (“Plan to burn waste opposed,” Page A1, Dec. 31). She rightly points out that a huge amount of recyclables, banned from disposal by state law, end up in disposal facilities anyway, with no consequences. However, she also refers to the technologies the state is considering as “new.”

I have worked on solid waste issues for 30 years and know that gasification technologies have been around at least as long. These technologies are anything but new, and the fact that few have been built speaks to their lack of feasibility.

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Recycling is proven to save natural resources, preserve habitat, reduce pollution, and create many more jobs than landfilling or incineration. Gasification is not a clean technology. Had Taunton, which has already spent over $5 million to develop its gasification facility, put a fraction of that money into recycling they could have had a world class program. Instead, they are going back to old, unused technologies.

Communities throughout the country and world have achieved recycling rates approaching 80 percent. Massachusetts can do that, too. But it takes funding. The state recycling budget has been cut significantly. Massachusetts must adopt a surcharge on waste disposal, as over 30 states have, to fund recycling and waste reduction programs.

Amy Perlmutter

Cambridge

The author is a sustainability consultant and former recycling coordinator for the city of San Francisco.

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