Meet Katherine Breer Bruns, the Town of West Hartford’s First Recycling Coordinator – We-Ha

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West Hartford resident Katherine Bruns will be educating the community on the ‘6 Rs of materials management,’ information that will be particularly timely as residents are staying home, and perhaps acquiring more packaging as they order take-out from restaurants and delivery from retailers.

By Ronni Newton

The Town of West Hartford has taken an important step to not only help divert more items from the waste stream, but also to have a positive impact on the environment, with the hiring of Katherine Bruns as the town’s first dedicated recycling coordinator.

“Materials management” is the new buzzword phrase now that recycling has gone from a revenue source for municipalities to a budget line item. Bruns, who has lived in West Hartford for 16 years and is also a seasoned educator and cross-cultural trainer, is excited to share her rich knowledge of the current statistics and trends in recycling and waste diversion as well as her enthusiasm for the 6 “R’s” of materials management – rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, rot, recycle – with everyone.

Bruns is looking forward to working with the Department of Public Works team to reach its ambitious goals of decreasing the volume of trash West Hartford sends to a landfill. She plans to share these “6 Rs” with the community, to increase what is recycled, composted, and donated. 

Bruns, who is starting off by updating the town’s “Waste Wizard” app, said just because items are “recyclable” it doesn’t necessarily mean they are “acceptable” in our recycling facilities.  Contaminated recycling streams cost money and waste energy as it takes time and energy to take unwanted items from the recycling stream and send it to trash facilities.

Getting this important information to town residents is vital for the budget as well as the environment.

In addition, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, residents may be creating more waste as remain in their homes for the majority of the day, and order take-out food and delivery that requires packaging.

Since food waste comprises of 30% of the waste stream, she will continue working with West Hartford Public Schools – once they reopen – on the important task of expanding food waste diversion (aka composting)  to include all district schools.

Bruns is looking forward to delivering updated and expanded recycling education across multiple social media platforms, where she will keep residents up to date on current recycling norms and rules. Follow West Hartford Recycles on Facebook for updates.

She will share this same information during various educational outreach opportunities in libraries, community centers, and senior centers, and plans to ensure recycling material is available in multiple languages so all in the community can be included.

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