Greenfield awarded $2M from EPA for automated recycling collection system

  • From left, Greenfield Department of Public Works Deputy Director Sam Urkiel, DPW Director Marlo Warner II and Mayor Roxann Wedegartner announce a $2 million grant for recycling infrastructure upgrades on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • From left, Greenfield Department of Public Works Deputy Director Sam Urkiel, DPW Director Marlo Warner II, Mayor Roxann Wedegartner, Recycling Coordinator Janine Greaves and Assistant Field Supervisor Lenny Fritz announce a $2 million grant for recycling infrastructure upgrades on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 9/15/2023 5:27:53 PM

GREENFIELD — Funded in part by a $2 million grant, the city will undergo a complete transformation of its recycling management system over the next three years, transitioning from a dual-stream, manual collection system to a single-stream, fully automated collection system.

“It is a testament to our city’s long-term commitment to fighting climate change through all of our energy efficiency efforts,” Mayor Roxann Wedegartner said during a press conference Friday morning, noting the city was one of the first in the state to be designated a Green Community. “This is one more way to solidify that reputation.”

The grant award stems from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s newly established Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling Grant Program, known as SWIFR, according to Wedegartner. Greenfield was among 25 grant awardees out of more than 330 applicants nationwide, and the only grant recipient in New England.

“The SWIFR grant is a catalyst for meaningful change in Greenfield,” she said.

The grant, which will require a match of roughly $880,000 — likely to be allocated through capital and general funds — will fund the acquisition of a new fleet of automated collection vehicles, new collection bins for residents (to be provided free of charge) and a staff person to assist with the education and implementation of the recycling program, she said. The new collection carts will be able to store up to five times more recyclable material, eliminating the need for multiple carts.

“The new automated vehicles are double the size of the [Department of Public Works’] current fleet,” Wedegartner said, speaking from the Transfer Station on Friday. “This allows the DPW to double its route efficiency, removing the need for extra shops to the Transfer Station. The new vehicles are also more fuel efficient.”

The new fleet will replace an aging fleet that requires frequent maintenance to operate, she said.

The city will also use the grant to buy a new tractor-trailer for transporting recyclables from Greenfield to Springfield. DPW Director Marlo Warner II said the current tractor-trailer has more than 1 million miles on it.

As the system transitions from one to another, Warner said staffing levels will remain the same. Echoing Wedegartner’s emphasis on launching a more environmentally friendly system, he said the new vehicles will eventually mean reducing the amount of idling time at each stop from two minutes to just 15 seconds.

“Going automated will definitely take injury out of the job,” he added. “They’re basically not going to get out of the trucks during their routes.”

Wedegartner said the transition, which will take place over a three-year period, will also mean significant cost savings for the DPW. Warner said savings will be better known in year three of the transition, at which point the city will have had roughly a year of the new system in place.

“We know it’s going to be a great savings, we just can’t put a number on it,” he said.

The DPW anticipates the total implementation time needed for the recycling collection transformation project to take at least one year. Warner and Wedegartner noted the grant will also be used to fund an educational campaign to keep the community informed throughout the process.

“This grant is a home run for the city,” Warner said. “I am very grateful to the EPA for this grant. From an operations perspective, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve our operations and efficiency.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.


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