MassDEP initiative seeks to improve curbside recycling stream

MassDEP initiative seeks to improve curbside recycling stream

Recycling IQ Kit will help communities educate residents on better recycling practices.

March 20, 2018
Edited by DeAnne Toto
Municipal Recycling

Photo: Dreamstime

A new resource available through the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) is designed to help cities and towns across the commonwealth increase the quality of their residential recycling streams, according to a news release from that state agency.

The Recycling IQ Kit will help municipalities educate residents on how to better recycle to remove contaminants from the recycling stream and make those materials more attractive to global commodity markets. The program funding of $187,500 involves awards of $40,000 each to Dartmouth, Lowell, Lynn and New Bedford, Massachusetts, $20,000 to Halifax and $7,500 to Chatham. Additional funding is available to more communities that sign up to implement the strategies included in the Recycling IQ Kit program.

The Recycling IQ Kit was created by MassDEP and The Recycling Partnership, Falls Church, Virginia, and has been tested in nearly a dozen Massachusetts communities. Municipalities can apply for funding ranging from $7,500 to $40,000 to implement the Recycling IQ program, which involves providing direct feedback to residents by leaving “oops” tags on recycling carts, letting them know what should and should not be recycled. The funding also pays for production of signage, mailers and banners and for staff to monitor recycling carts and distribute educational materials. 

“The commonwealth is committed to sustainability and protection of our environment and, working collectively, we can continue to increase the economic value and environmental benefit of recycling in all of our communities,” says Gov. Charlie Baker. “The Recycling IQ Kit is an innovative way to help cities and towns reach these important goals.”
“Cities and towns lead the way when it comes to recycling, so we are proud to offer this new program to help reduce their recycling costs,” Lieutenant Gov. Karyn Polito says. “The Recycling IQ Kit is designed for communities to easily provide feedback and information so residents better understand what can go into the recycling cart.”
The commonwealth says it encourages residents to recycle at home, work or school; however, items are often placed in recycling bins that can contaminate the valuable materials and add handling costs at local recycling facilities. The Recycling IQ Kit provides steps, tools and resources to “increase the quality” or IQ, of the materials collected locally.
“Massachusetts residents are eager to recycle; but, at times, recycling can be confusing, and putting unwanted items in a recycling container can increase costs,” says Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The Recycling IQ Kit will help residents make good recycling decisions to reduce trash costs and create greater recycling value.”
“MassDEP is committed to working with municipal recycling officials, haulers and recycling facilities to clean up the materials stream and ensure a healthier recycling industry,” says MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “With a robust recycling infrastructure in Massachusetts, it’s more important than ever to protect the investments made by local and state government and private industry and keep the supply chain of good, clean recyclables flowing to end users to make new products and packaging.”
“As the commonwealth looks for innovative new ways to combat the growing issue of climate change, the Department of Environmental Protection’s newly established Recycling IQ Kit will bolster municipal efforts to ensure the safe and seamless disposal of discarded materials,” says State Sen. Eileen M. Donoghue of Lowell. “This funding will assist the city of Lowell as it continues its efforts to be an environmentally sustainable community.”
State Rep. Thomas A. Golden Jr. of Lowell, who serves as chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, adds, “This funding will empower Lowell to further improve residential recycling in ways that benefit our environment, as well as our local economy. We look forward to working with MassDEP to achieve these goals and are excited to utilize their Recycling IQ Kit to provide our residents with the information they need to recycle more effectively.”
State Rep. Antonio F.D. Cabral of New Bedford says, “Because residential recycling isn’t as simple as one would think, outreach is needed. Plastic bags from the grocery store, for example, can’t be included in single-stream recycling to the surprise of many. And that’s where this Recycling IQ Kit comes in. New Bedford residents want to recycle efficiently, and this $40,000 grant will help us do that.”
Recently, the Northeast Recycling Council (NERC), Brattleboro, Vermont, and the Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association (NEWMOA), Boston, have announced they are co-sponsoring a free webinar April 10, 2018, focused on the Recycling IQ Kit and lessons learned from implementing this initiative. Those interested in attending the webinar can register here.