"Something’s rotting in Cambridge, and it’s all good" by David Abel Globe Staff August 25, 2018
CAMBRIDGE — Beneath a hot sun on a recent morning, a large garbage truck inched down Putnam Avenue, leaving a stench in its wake that lingered long after the orange compactor had disappeared down another street.
The pungent aroma came less from the truck than from the row of newly issued green bins lining the sidewalk, many of them containing a soupy residue of moldering food scraps.
“The heat isn’t helping the smell,” said Mia Counts, 26, a graduate student who winced as she walked past the open bins.
Still, Counts and many of her neighbors insist they’re willing to put up with the reek, for the good of the environment.
Last spring, Cambridge launched the state’s largest test of a citywide composting program, in which 25,000 households were provided kits to divert their food waste from the usual trash pickup headed for incinerators or landfills.
The program, which has already led to a sharp drop in the city’s waste stream, could be replicated in cities and towns across Massachusetts as the state reviews how it disposes of its waste, about a quarter of which is estimated to come from food scraps. The rotting remains, long a bane to landfills, also produce a significant amount of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.
As scraps such as watermelon rinds and apple cores decay, they release methane, a potent greenhouse gas that traps at least 25 percent more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
And yet they want you to fork over money for a carbon tax, and never you mind the fracking that realizes so much of it.
Methane is responsible for about one-10th of all greenhouse gases produced in the United States, and about 14 percent of those emissions come from landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Composting food scraps allows the methane to be contained and used for heat and power.
Food waste also takes up precious landfill space, which has dwindled in recent years. In 2012, the state’s landfills had about 2.1 million tons of capacity; in 2022, environmental officials expect to have less than 700,000 tons of capacity, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection. Most of the rest of the waste is either burned in incinerators or exported to other states.
To prolong the life of landfills and reduce waste, the state has launched its own composting program. Large institutions such as universities, hospitals, and hotels that produce more than a ton of organic waste a week are now required to dispose of it by composting, donating what is edible to food pantries, or sending it to special plants that capture methane and convert the gas into energy, heat, or fertilizer, but the state may not meet its goals.
That's okay. It's a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do state.
In 2014, when the Patrick administration launched the program, environmental officials told the Globe they expected that year to divert 450,000 of the state’s 1.4 million tons of organic waste from landfills, but two years later, Massachusetts diverted only 260,000 tons, according to the most recent state figures from the Department of Environmental Protection.
The state has also fallen behind on efforts to reduce overall waste, but environmental officials nonetheless insist that the state remains on track to make substantial reductions to the waste stream.
"Members of the Massachusetts Environmental Police regularly take overtime assignments and off-duty details in the middle of the workday, scheduling their normal state work around more profitable side gigs, according to payroll records. Agency officials and Governor Charlie Baker vowed to crack down on the practice following media reports two years ago, but the routine continues today....."
That is a different kind of wa$te.
Far from being eradicated, the state’s waste problems could worsen in the coming years as many municipal recycling programs are struggling.
This year, China and other countries began refusing to accept a large amount of recycled materials from the United States, saying that much of it is contaminated and creates pollution. As a result, recycling plants in Massachusetts and other states have been unable to sell much of the material they collect, hiking the costs of municipal recycling programs. Towns that used to earn money from their programs now pay as much as $70 a ton to have it hauled to landfills or incinerators.
See: New China policies spark disarray in region’s recycling industry
Not all their fault.
Domenitz and others have called on officials to do more to curb the vast amount of trash that gets improperly disposed, such as batteries and tires; expand the state’s bottle law, so that millions of containers for noncarbonated beverages are eligible to be redeemed for a nickel; and impose a statewide ban on plastic bags, which often gum up the works at recycling plants.
They have also called on more municipalities to take the politically dicey step of requiring residents to pay fees based on the amount of trash they throw away. Fall River and Worcester have taken that step and have reduced their waste costs by millions of dollars over the years. In addition, advocates have urged the state to hire dedicated inspectors to monitor landfills, where an estimated 40 percent of the waste could be recycled.
“The state’s solid waste plan has been an absolute failure,” said Kirstie Pecci, director of the zero waste project at the Conservation Law Foundation in Boston.
One bright spot is that an increasing number of communities in Massachusetts have turned to composting.....
Like Manchester-by-the-Sea and Cambridge.
You know, the rich do-gooders.
Here is something else I thought i would throw in the bin:
"Chilling ‘wrap rage:’ Hasbro and Amazon pack toys with less stuff" by Alex Gailey Globe Correspondent August 27, 2018
Hasbro has a present for anyone who has been driven into a state of “wrap rage” while wrestling with an impossible-to-open package.
The Providence maker of such childhood favorites as Mr. Potato Head and Play-Doh is liberating its toys from the fortress of shipping materials that can mar any gift-giving occasion. After years of working with Amazon, Hasbro says more than 100 of its products can be purchased through the online retail giant in “frustration-free” packaging.
“When customers receive a package at home, they want to get into it very quickly and not work through any materials seen in a brick-and-mortar package,” said Jeff Jackson, the Hasbro vice president who oversees the partnership with Amazon. “When it’s a frustration-free package, all of that ‘stuff’ is gone.”
Hasbro is just one of about 1,000 companies that have collaborated with Amazon to simplify how they package products sold online. Amazon came up with the idea roughly 10 years ago after seeing that “wrap rage” was one of the top complaints from customers.
Back then, most orders left at the door were in bulky boxes with the contents inside secured by some combination of wire ties, plastic clam shells, paper stuffing, and bubble wrap (which did second duty as a poppable play toy for kids while their parents struggled to open the package).
Amazon reached out to big manufacturers whose goods it sells and tried to get as many companies on board. Initially, Amazon launched frustration-free packaging with 19 items; now the program has more than 2 million products.
For example, the Amazon box for Hasbro’s Bootsie, an animated furry cat, is about 25 percent smaller than the traditional version and comes simply wrapped in a plastic bag. Meanwhile, the regular shipment is a package within a package, secured with multiple twist ties and layers of plastic to a cardboard display box.
Jackson said it only takes seconds to open a frustration-free package compared with minutes for a typical brick-and-mortar package. Though it primarily ships its frustration-free packages through Amazon, Hasbro also offers them to other online vendors. Brick-and-mortar stores still get the elaborate packaging that allows the toys to be displayed on shelves, but Hasbro has committed to making all of those packaging materials recyclable, too.
Because e-commerce packages don’t have to look pretty to sell, Amazon was free to experiment with ways to unload excessive materials.
“In the same way a house has curb appeal, packages in the retail environment have shelf appeal. But packaging for the online environment is very different,” said Casey Taylor, a partner at consulting firm Bain & Co. who specializes in customer strategy for retail clients. “You’ve already made the purchase online, so the most important part is that it comes to you protected and with as little packaging as possible.”
Hasbro began designing new packages with Amazon seven years ago for a few key products. Essentially, the company designs the tightest and lightest possible packaging while still ensuring the toy makes it to someone’s doorstep intact, said Jacquie Patterson, a senior packaging engineer at Hasbro.
“An e-commerce package is getting touched probably 20-plus different times, so the structure has to be designed in a way to withstand the shipping process,” Jackson said.
Manufacturers such as Hasbro are required to go through a certification process at Amazon to get a package approved as “frustration-free.” It undergoes a performance test simulating the journey of a package, including drops, compression, and other physical tests, that can take up to two to three weeks.
Despite the obvious benefits of less packaging, not to mention the lower blood pressure, some consumers may not want too little wrapping with their goods, said Taylor, the Bain consultant. Some are not inclined to sacrifice the “wow” factor, especially during holiday season, when gifts are expected to come in bright and shiny packages. “The showmanship of retail will continue to be important,” said Taylor.....