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MA Town: Working with Partnership Saved us Money

This article was originally published by MassLive on June 30, 2017.

West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt Says Successful Recycling Partnership Saving Town Money

A project designed to reduce inappropriate or contaminated recycling materials in West Springfield and other Massachusetts communities yielded such good results that the state and an independent nonprofit organization are teaming up again to implement the program in other commonwealth communities.

The Recycling Partnership, a pilot project launched last year, worked well in West Springfield, Lowell, Needham and Holden, and now the Virginia-based nonprofit is working with several other Massachusetts cities and towns.

“I’m pleased with the outcomes of the program,” West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt said Thursday. “Reducing contamination directly affects our bottom line, as we are fined for improperly disposing trash.”

“The Recycling Partnership team has been in the trenches with city and town officials as we work to reduce waste contamination throughout Massachusetts,” said Brooke Nash, branch chief of MassDEP’s Municipal Waste Reduction Program. The goal is to improve community recycling systems “one resident at a time,” Nash said.

Working directly with MassDEP officials, DPW employees and citizens, the nonprofit aims to improve municipal recycling systems across the country.

Here’s how the partnership works:

  • Recycling representatives hone in on what contaminants are causing the most trouble in each community;
  • direct messaging is distributed to participating communities, including mailings, social media alerts and newspaper ads to educate people;
  • representatives conduct boots-on-the-ground operations to teach municipal employees to identify and tag recycling carts that contain contaminants that cannot be recycled;
  • residents are alerted to which items in their carts cannot be recycled and given an opportunity to remove the contaminants.

After receiving notifications about their contaminated recycling, about 35 percent of residents removed the inappropriate items or materials from their carts, according to partnership officials.