Mass. Food, Beverage Companies Bow Recycling Initiative

The Massachusetts Beverage Association and the Massachusetts Food Association are launching a two-year initiative with the goal of increasing recycling in communities across the state. Building upon past recycling investments in recycling, the Massachusetts Recycling Challenge aims to improve residential recycling programs, while also boosting the presence of convenient receptacles to encourage recycling in public places.

“While Massachusetts has built up its infrastructure for recycling over the past several years, there is still much work to be done as far as increasing our state’s recycling rate,” explained Chris Flynn, president of the Boston-based Massachusetts Food Association and spokesman for Real Recycling for Massachusetts, a coalition of citizens, businesses and community organizations supporting a comprehensive approach to recycling. “Our industry is committed to playing a leading role in increasing recycling in our state, and we believe this initiative can set the stage for meaningful progress.”

Under the initiative, various pilot programs will be developed to help target communities raise their recycling rates. A new nonprofit entity will tap outside consultants to provide technical advice to those communities looking to implement “pay as you throw” programs, through which residents can save money on trash collection by recycling more. Additionally, the organization will buy about 200 “on-the-go” recycling bins to be placed in high-visibility public locations in target communities.

The pay-as-you-throw approach, in which residents pay trash collection and disposal fees that are proportional to how much they throw away, has proved highly effective in such Massachusetts communities as Worcester and Marshfield for diverting material away from disposal. Diversion from disposal in pay-as-you-throw communities normally increases 16 percent with the adoption of these programs, and diversion is even higher if single-stream or other recycling program enhancements are implemented simultaneously. The use of recycling receptacles in public places is a priority for many environmental, community and legislative leaders who want to increase recycling in Massachusetts.

“Legislative leaders in Massachusetts have spoken clearly that they want a comprehensive approach to recycling across the commonwealth, and they are looking for a commitment from our industry to help lead the way,” noted Chris Crowley, EVP of Worcester-based Polar Beverages and chairman of the Massachusetts Beverage Association in Norwood. “That’s a challenge we embrace, and through the Massachusetts Recycling Challenge, we hope motivated communities will see the opportunity to make a difference.”

The two-year, $533,000 pilot program will roll out in 2012 and take effect 2013 and 2014. The pay-as-you-throw program will kick off with no-charge workshops and include technical resources and advice for 15 to 20 communities in each of those two years. Experts will offer higher-level technical assistance to five communities chosen in each year of the program. The initiative to place receptacles in public spaces will fund the purchase of about 100 bins in each of the two program years. The initiative will fund technical support on receptacle siting, communications, and documentation of results, and will include in-kind, promotional support from beverage companies and food retailers.

“We're taking what have proven to be effective means for comprehensive recycling in communities in Massachusetts and across the country, and are providing the resources to expand on them,” said Jim Crosby, owner of Crosby’s Marketplace, which operates stores in Middlesex and Essex counties, and chairman of the Massachusetts Food Association.

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