The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 17, 2010

Recycling Committee seeks to educate and increase recycling

A recurring concern at the Carlisle Household Recycling Committee’s December 9 meeting was townspeople’s general misunderstanding of recycling rules and guidelines at the Transfer Station. The committee hopes to address this issue in a number of ways in the New Year, with the help of two grants from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Of particular concern to the Recycling Committee is the throwing of banned items in the solid waste bins, as this results in high tipping fees and raises the cost of operations at the Transfer Station. The Transfer Station’s current permit with the Board of Health (BOH) expires March 31, 2011 and, as such, the committee will be pursuing a conversation with BOH officials soon to gather ideas for enforcing the bans.

Signs listing banned items are posted at the Transfer Station, but committee member Launa Zimmaro questioned, “Why have a ban if you don’t enforce it?” Zimmaro pointed out that grant money is likely available to bring in a part-time enforcement officer, but she and other members of the group agreed that an only occasionally present enforcer might not be the most effective way to raise awareness of banned items.

The Recycling Committee has received two grants from the DEP already this fall: a $750 grant and a Municipal Assistance Grant for up to 60 hours of DEP Municipal Assistance Coordinator Carolyn Dann’s time.

According to the project’s Scope of Work, Dann will help to develop “a long-term plan to establish incentives for waste reduction and increased recycling at the Transfer Station.” After gathering data from communities comparable to Carlisle that have implemented waste reduction and recycling programs like those being considered here, Dann will deliver a qualitative comparison of alternatives to the current operating model and a cost/benefit analysis and financial comparison.

Pay-as-you-throw considered

Zimmaro stated that research has shown the only way to significantly increase recycling is to adopt a pay-as-you-throw model, where residents would pay for each bag of non-recyclable solid waste trash brought to the Transfer Station. The project led by Dann will likely include pay-as-you-throw as a suggested operating model, but Zimmaro stated, “A good-faith PR campaign should come first” to inform the public fully about current recycling options.

The Recycling Committee discussed using funds from the $750 DEP grant toward launching this publicity campaign to increase awareness and boost motivation about recycling in town. A town survey to assess the level of education needed was suggested as a starting point for this endeavor.

Recycling tips

A few specific questions raised recently by patrons of the Transfer Station include how to best dispose of paper in the recycling bins if paper bags are not available and what happens to stripped down computer components left in the Swap Shed. Chair Rob Peary says, “Twine or string is okay for newspaper. When I am getting low on brown paper bags I just grab a few from the newspaper pile (reuse is always good), or else take the papers out of the bag when I dump them. Plastic bags are not allowed in the newspaper container.” He also clarified that Superintendent of Public Works Gary Davis stores all the computer items and has a vendor who collects them.

Styrofoam to be collected after the holidays

A recycling opportunity coming up is a planned Styrofoam Collection Day at the Transfer Station on Saturday, January 22. When thrown away, Styrofoam is either burned, creating toxic ash or sits in a landfill where it never breaks down. Zimmaro spoke recently with David Sherman of ReFoamIt in Framingham, a company that takes loose Styrofoam pieces and condenses them into blocks that are then processed by another machine and turned into pellets. The pellets can be used to make new products such as picture frames, car bumpers and plastic brackets.

The Recycling Committee has received approval from Town Administrator Tim Goddard to move forward with plans for the event. ReFoamIt will pick up the Styrofoam after the collection day and recycle it using their patent pending process. The committee hopes that they will get an especially high volume of Styrofoam immediately following the holidays, when many people receive packages padded by Styrofoam products. ∆

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