Tuesday, June 8, 2010

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES: Recycling Paper and Composting

Question/Comment: A Ward 7 resident committed to reducing and recycling reports constantly being faced with a dilemma in that it is required that paper recycling be left out in paper bags. S/he uses reusable cloth bags at stores, and thus never has paper bags, so s/he cannot put out paper recycling.  Also, S/he would love to see Somerville implement a wet waste collection program that could contribute compost to City properties, community gardens, and private gardens.  S/he thinks people must be  working on such issues, but didn't find e-mailing addresses on the City's website very helpful. S/he would like to know if there is a forum for discussing these issues with the City.

City Update 6/8/10:   The City wants to promote and encourage recycling as much as possible and paper recycling is an important part of this strategy.  We are currently trying to advance the recycling program by launching a "single stream" recycling pilot in a portion of the city, which will begin this summer.  This will allow residents to recycle all paper, bottles, cans, etc. in one container without sorting.  We hope to use lessons learned from the pilot to expand single stream recycling citywide as soon as possible.  Unfortunately, due to current fiscal constraints we are unable to provide separate bins for paper recycling.  One suggestion is that you could specifically request paper for one bag of groceries when you go shopping each week.  On the topic of composting - The City has been examining opportunities for a voluntary composting program for local businesses, farmers markets and City schools, as well as making a composting service available to residents. Each of these potential composting program components is being carefully examined as an option for Somerville.


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  3. Until single streaming is citywide, use twine to tie up paper. Takes a bit more effort, but I do this when I'm out of bags.

  4. Other communities have tried less expensive approaches than single stream, with good success at raising recycling rates. My hometown, Wayland, uses a "pay-as-you-throw" approach, which directly rewards folks who recycle more.

    from: http://www.wayland.ma.us/dpw/PAYT%20FAQ%20(2).pdf

    What is Pay-As-You-Throw?

    A: 'Pay-As-You-Throw' is a variable-rate system that encourages households to recycle more and generate less trash. The cost savings are then passed on to the households as trash disposal costs are then distributed more equitably. Simply put, Pay-As-You-Throw is a system by which you pay for the trash you discard. The core idea of Pay-As-You-Throw is that when you recycle more, and discard less trash, you pay less.

    Has such a system been considered for Somerville? I see so much recyclable material just carelessly thrown away; I can't help but think that a small incentive is all people need to save some serious resources and energy.

  5. Great post! When I read your article, I really agree with you about this. I hope you will share more with us. Thank you!


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