By Mayor Brian M. Arrigo
Think back some 30 years
ago, when Revere joined a growing number of Massachusetts communities to
provide curbside collection of recyclable materials. Do you remember the small green or red
crates, and how you had to separate paper from metal from glass?
Revere made a major step in
the early 2000s when the City switched to ‘single-stream’ recycling. Everyone was provided with a big brown bin,
and the days of separating paper from metal from glass were gone. Residents dutifully went about filling their
bins, happily playing a role to help the environment. And thanks to the worldwide demand for
recyclable materials, recycling haulers actually paid the City for the
opportunity to pick up our recyclable materials. Those were the good ol’ days of curbside
collection of recyclable materials.
Today, it’s a very different
story. Friends, Revere is flunking
recycling. Big time. According to information provided by the
city’s recycling collector, a full 100 per cent of our recycling bins are
contaminated with materials that are not eligible for recycling. That costs the city a lot of money, and the
burden falls directly on the taxpayer.
People still want to do
right for the environment, and for our City.
But over the years, the rules have changed for disposing recyclable
materials. So it’s time for a refresher
course and a renewed effort to improve our recycling routines.
With the benefit of a
$40,000 Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection,
our Department of Public Works this week began a concentrated program to
educate residents and raise our recycling game.
When people properly recycle, the cost savings to the City is
Revere currently pays $79
per ton for the removal of recyclable materials. But when a bin is contaminated
with plastic bags, pizza boxes, dirty containers, or non-recyclable material,
the cost to dispose it jumps to $105 per ton.
Since January alone, Revere has spent $36,224 more than necessary because
we have had to pay for the disposal of contaminated recyclable materials. We’ve spent 33 per cent more dollars than we
would have spent if only proper materials were contained in the recycling bin.
A major aspect of the
recycling education effort will involve inspectors who will fan out across the
City on recycling collection days and look inside recycling bins. During the first two weeks of the program,
inspectors will place a “Warning” tag on bins that contain non-recyclable
items, or items are contained in a plastic bag inside the bin. Hopefully, this will clarify for residents
which items are acceptable and which are not.
Beginning July 22,
Inspectors who find unacceptable contents of a recycling bin will issue “Ooops”
tags, which will specify the unacceptable contents. The recycling bins belonging to repeat
offenders will not be collected.
Everyone can play a role in
the citywide effort to improve our recycling practices. The City of Revere website,
www.revere.org/recycle, contains detailed information about proper recycling
methods and actions. And everyone should
download the Revere Trash / Street Sweeping App, which provides reminders and
answers just about any question you might have about trash collection and
street sweeping in your neighborhood.
In the coming weeks, the
City will also intensify enforcement of the new trash ordinance which the City
Council adopted recently. Improving our
recycling habits, and complying with the laws that control trash disposal, will
not only help our city look better, it will play a key role in containing the
Revere spends some $3.8
million annually in trash and recycling collection. Residents and taxpayers can help save money,
and help keep our city clean by following the simple rules that govern trash
and recyclable disposal. The disposal of
trash and recyclable materials is probably the most direct way that every
resident can play a positive role for our city.
Complaining about trash meaningless when we all have the chance to make improvements
in the City’s appearance. The good news
is that, when it comes to improving our recycling routines, we can only
improve. But we have a long way to go.