BOSTON (SHNS) – The state’s top environmental protection official will be leaving come January to take over an interstate nonprofit focused on waste management.
Martin Suuberg, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, will join the Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association as its new executive director on Jan. 23, 2023.
The nonprofit serves Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont “whose membership is composed of the state environment agency programs that address pollution prevention, toxics use reduction, sustainability, materials management, hazardous waste, solid waste, emergency response, waste site cleanup, underground storage tanks, and related environmental challenges.”
Suuberg was appointed as MassDEP commissioner by Gov. Charlie Baker and his then-Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Matthew Beaton, in 2015.
Though some insiders have suggested that Gov.-elect Maura Healey may keep some Baker appointees after she takes office in January, so far the governor-elect has chosen fresh faces to fill roles in her administration. She has not yet announced a new commissioner for MassDEP.
Suuberg was chosen for the NEWMOA role after an extensive search process, according to the nonprofit.
“For the last eight years, Martin served as Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department Environmental Protection at a time when the agency developed and implemented drinking water and contaminated site clean-up standards for PFAS and enhanced efforts to address environmental justice and equity issues,” says a press release from the organization.
Under Suuberg’s supervision, MassDEP adopted a Solid Waste Master Plan in 2021 with goals to cut down waste disposal in Massachusetts 30 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050.
The master plan aims to slash the yearly solid waste disposal to 4 million tons by 2030, and it also sets a long-term goal of just 570,000 tons of waste by 2050, the same year by which the state must achieve net-zero carbon emissions under a climate law Baker signed last year..
To get there, DEP implemented regulations this November to lower the amount of food and other organic waste Massachusetts businesses are allowed to toss from one ton per week to half a ton per week and added mattresses and textiles to the list of materials prohibited from disposal.
DEP’s plan additionally calls for reducing the amount of plastic materials burned to help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions that municipal combustors produce by 300,000 metric tons every year.
In his new role, Suuberg will tackle the environmental issues caused by solid waste from a new perspective, as well as working on pollution prevention and issues caused by hazardous waste and mercury.
Among other goals, NEWMOA aims to develop and enhance the capabilities and knowledge of state officials so that they are well trained, able to adjust to rapid changes in technology, and respond effectively to emerging environmental challenges.
“NEWMOA is an important regional forum for discussing and developing solutions to environmental issues,” Suuberg said. “I am eager to join the NEWMOA team and build on the important work it is doing with the states and their partners.”