June 7, 2010

Massachusetts Seeks to Ban Disposal of Clean Drywall From Solid Waste Facilities

Holland & Knight Alert
Dianne R. Phillips

On May 21, 2010, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced its intention to amend the existing solid waste ban regulations found in 310 C.M.R. 19.017 to add clean gypsum wallboard to the list of restricted materials effective September 1, 2010. If the proposed regulations are implemented, contractors will need to develop procedures to segregate scrap drywall at jobsites in order to comply with the waste ban.

Gypsum wallboard, also known as “drywall,” is a panel used typically in interior construction to form a wall or ceiling. According to DEP, approximately 15 percent to 20 percent of new gypsum wallboard is disposed of as scrap. DEP estimates that approximately 40,000 tons to 50,000 tons of new gypsum wallboard scrap material is generated annually in Massachusetts. DEP believes that adequate recycling and reuse opportunities are now available for this waste stream, and therefore recommends its ban from all solid waste facilities in Massachusetts, including land fills, municipal waste combustors and transfer stations.

In 1990, DEP introduced its first bans on landfilling and combustion of easy-to-recycle and toxic materials. Additional “waste bans” were phased in since that time. The last waste ban implemented in 2006 pertained to construction and demolition wastes consisting of asphalt pavement, brick and concrete, metal and certain wood waste. DEP is not proposing to ban the disposal of renovation or demolition gypsum wallboard waste material at this time – instead, the proposed new ban only applies to “clean gypsum wallboard” which is defined as gypsum wallboard that is not contaminated with paint, wallpaper, joint compound, adhesives, nails, or other substances after manufacture. It includes a panel, known as drywall, with a gypsum core that is faced with a heavy paper or other material on both sides.

As part of this proposed rulemaking process, DEP will hold two public hearings on June 14 and June 16 and take public comments until July 6, 2010. Once implemented, all solid waste handling and disposal facilities will be required to adopt procedures for implementing the waste ban including, among other things, inspection procedures to ensure banned drywall is not improperly disposed of. In addition, any person who attempts to improperly dispose of the banned drywall, either directly or by agreement, could be subject to enforcement as well.

Holland & Knight lawyers can assist with any questions you have about the proposed rule, or provide guidance on how to file comments.

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