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I’m proud to report on a number of victories, including progress to- ward solving our trash problem. Here in New England, the way we manage our trash has devastating impacts for public health, the environment, our economy and our climate. In 2012, Americans generated more than four pounds of waste per person every day, and less than 35 percent of that was recycled. Recycling rates are even worse in places like Boston, where residential recycling rates have struggled to top 20 percent.
The Environmental Protection Agency says that all landfills eventually leak, so claims that “state-of-the-art technology” will protect our groundwater are never true. In addition to threatening drinking water, landfills give off potentially harmful gases, and some studies show that birth defects increase in communities surrounding dumps. Waste incineration is no better, polluting our air with heavy metals and dioxins, and producing toxic ash, which must be landfilled. Landfills and incinerators also release global warming pollution and waste huge amounts of energy.
Fortunately, studies show that we can reduce, reuse, recycle or compost 70 to 90 percent of what we’re currently throwing away. Places like San Francisco, Seattle, Nantucket and Nova Scotia are proving that we can maximize recycling, minimize waste, set a goal of zero waste, and make a plan to get there. Toxics Action Center is working in communities across New England to make zero waste solutions a reality.
In recent months, we helped community groups win victories to prevent new landfills in Argyle, Maine, Milton, N.H., and Moretown, Vt. We supported efforts that now have incinerators in Hartford and Walling- ford, Conn., teetering on the brink of retirement. And our work in Boston, Vermont and Connecticut has helped convince decision-makers to make recycling and zero waste a priority. We still have a long way to go, but these wins leave me hopeful. Thanks, as always, for your support!
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