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TURA was a catalyst and continues to impact international chemicals policy.
- Beverly Thorpe, Partner at Clean Production Action

History & Accomplishments

Science, engineering and policy come together in this model program

How was TURA created?

In 1989, negotiations were encouraged by Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) between two opposing sides: industry and environmentalists. The two sides were represented by the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) and by the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MassPIRG), respectively. The Spring 1993 issue of HazMat Management states that "the two groups came together in response to legislation on chemical use restriction and chemical bans proposed by members of MassPIRG and the possibility that a question on restrictions and bans might appear on the 1990 election." Additionally, industry agreed to restrictions that would reduce hazardous and toxic chemicals released into the environment as long as it did not involve chemical bans or conditions that would drive companies out of the state. Both groups agreed to certain concessions, and this country's first comprehensive pollution prevention bill was enacted. (Raddatz, 1993). The final law was jointly supported by both AIM and MassPIRG. It was passed unanimously by both houses of the Massachusetts State Legislature and signed into law by then-Governor Michael Dukakis on July 24, 1989.

Overall objectives of TURA 

The Toxics Use Reduction Act was established in Massachusetts to promote safer and cleaner production that enhances the economic viability of Massachusetts firms: 

  • To establish toxics use reduction as the preferred means for achieving compliance with any federal or state law or regulation pertaining to toxics production and use, hazardous waste, industrial hygiene, worker safety, public exposure to toxics, or releases of toxics into the environment and for minimizing the risks associated with the use of toxic or hazardous substances and the production of toxic or hazardous substances or hazardous wastes
  • To sustain, safeguard and promote the competitive advantage of Massachusetts businesses, large and small, while advancing innovation in toxics use reduction and management
  • To promote reductions in the production and use of toxic and hazardous substances within the Commonwealth, both through the programs established in this Act and through existing toxics-related state programs
  • To enhance and strengthen the enforcement of existing environmental laws and regulations within the Commonwealth
  • To promote coordination and cooperation between all state departments and agencies administering toxics-related programs
Honors

TURA is considered a model environmental policy by other states and countries. It won the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award for excellence in the public sector in 1999, and the Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Program award in 2008.

A 2011 article by Jennifer Nash of the Harvard Kennedy School says TURA uniquely provides the three steps for effective regulation: generating information about what’s in use, and making it accessible; tapping into the existing knowledge of the companies using these materials; and flexibility to handle changes as more is known about these substances.