$158K to support recycling, waste reduction efforts across Franklin County, North Quabbin

  • Kyle Kabaniec, attendant at the Deerfield Transfer Station, puts recycling in large bins in May. The town recently received $5,950 through the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Sustainable Materials Recovery Program. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Recycling waiting to be picked up on West Street in Greenfield. The city recently received a total of $22,600 through the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Sustainable Materials Recovery Program. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 11/27/2022 6:23:43 PM

Recycling efforts in towns across Franklin County and the North Quabbin region are getting a boost from $157,635 in grants from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Sustainable Materials Recovery Program.

The bulk of the grants — amounting to $101,400 — were awarded to 19 of the 21 towns involved in the Franklin County Solid Waste Management District. Across Franklin County, including the towns not in the solid waste district, $134,435 was awarded. The North Quabbin communities of Athol, Petersham, Phillipston and Royalston collectively received $23,200.

“One of the most effective measures we can take to reduce the waste stream in communities across the commonwealth is to support and encourage recycling, diversion and reuse of waste materials,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in MassDEP’s grant announcement. “With this funding, we are ensuring that local officials, residents and small business owners can adopt practices that protect our environment and preserve Massachusetts’ natural resources.”

Jan Ameen, executive director of the Greenfield-based Franklin County Solid Waste Management District, agreed with Baker’s sentiment.

“We get $100,000 for doing what we do anyway,” she said. “It is an awesome program.”

The Sustainable Materials Recovery Program created a point system for different recycling and waste diversion programs that towns offer. Each year the points are tallied up and given a monetary value depending on the municipality’s population size. Ameen explained the criteria is not often changed, so towns receive annual grants that allow them to expand their waste programs even more.

The Franklin County Solid Waste Management District works with member towns to qualify for these points to further expand their transfer stations’ offerings. For example, the district has instituted some form of pay-as-you-throw program — through which residents are charged for trash collection based on the amount they throw away, creating a financial incentive to recycle more and to generate less trash — in most of its member towns.

Money was awarded across the state in several categories, including for start-up incentives for pay-as-you-throw programs, wheeled carts for curbside collection of recyclables or food waste, equipment to collect mercury-bearing items and regional small-scale initiatives. These grants do not expire, so many towns allow the grants to accumulate so that they may be put toward larger projects later.

Most towns received approximately $5,000, with Montague receiving $10,200 and Greenfield receiving $17,600. While most Franklin County and North Quabbin awards were for recycling dividends, Royalston and Greenfield each received an extra $5,000 for a waste shed and the Franklin County Solid Waste Management District garnered $1,500 for its regional small-scale initiatives.

“This grant is a testament to Greenfield’s forward-thinking approach to reducing waste and increasing recycling for the benefit of the community and our environment,” said Greenfield Department of Public Works Recycling Coordinator Janine Greaves said in a statement. “Greenfield has been ahead of the curve when it comes to removing items like mattresses and textiles from the waste stream and it’s gratifying to be recognized for that.”

Colrain has previously used these grants to buy a new chain link fence for its transfer station perimeter, and to buy a security camera to mitigate illegal dumping near the gate. Other towns use the grants to offset the costs of services they provide regularly.

In particular, Ameen highlighted Leverett and Orange for going above and beyond with their recycling programs. Each town was awarded 17 points through the Sustainable Materials Recovery Program, amounting to $6,650.

“They are really going hard,” Ameen said. “They have everything set up.”

According to MassDEP, the Sustainable Materials Recovery Program grant program was created under the Green Communities Act of 2008, which requires that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of waste energy certificates be directed to recycling programs approved by MassDEP. The initiative has provided more than $50 million to recycling programs since 2010.

“It is a great source of funding for towns who have been on the cutting edge for decades,” Ameen said.

For the list of the 270 Sustainable Materials Recovery Program grants awarded across Massachusetts, visit bit.ly/3AQ0pxi.

Bella Levavi can be reached at blevavi@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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