BOSTON – Aiming to strengthen recycling programs across Massachusetts, the Baker-Polito Administration today awarded more than $2.9 million to 262 municipalities and regional solid waste districts for Sustainable Materials Recovery Program (SMRP) grants that will help communities maximize their recycling, composting and waste reduction programs.
“Some of the most important environmental protection work happens every day in communities across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “With this assistance from the Sustainable Materials Recovery Program, local officials, residents and small business owners can continue the important work of protecting neighborhoods and natural resources.”
“Through the Sustainable Materials Recovery Program, our Administration continues to partner with cities, towns and regional organizations to increase recycling and decrease the disposal of valuable materials,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “These grants provide the funding necessary for communities to tailor their individual recycling programs to the needs of their residents.”
Under SMRP, which was created under the Green Communities Act and is administered by Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), 219 communities qualified for the “Recycling Dividends Program” (RDP) and will receive payments ranging from $2,100 to $97,500 for a total of $2.93 million statewide. The RDP recognizes municipalities that have implemented policies and programs proven to maximize materials reuse and recycling, as well as waste reduction. Communities that earn RDP payments must reinvest the funds in their recycling programs for things such as new recycling bins or carts, public education and outreach campaigns, collection of hard-to-recycle items and the establishment of recycling programs in schools, municipal buildings and other public spaces.
“Communities that decrease the waste stream and increase recycling, composting and reuse are helping to build a healthier environment and a stronger economy,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to working with cities and towns across Massachusetts to promote residential and commercial recycling and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create renewable energy, and stimulate the economy.”
Also included in this grant round, 43 municipalities will be awarded a total of $44,000 for a “Small-Scale Initiatives Grant.” These population-based grants range from $500 to $2,000 each and help communities purchase modest, but critical recycling materials and outreach tools needed to sustain their existing recycling program or to facilitate new, low-cost initiatives.
“Organics, paper, metals and plastic constitute more than 65 percent of the materials we throw away today, but the Commonwealth has made it a priority to recycle and reuse these valuable materials,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “These SMRP grants will help communities pump up their current recycling programs, capturing more materials that can be reused and recycled, and helping them cut their waste disposal costs.”
The RDP was rolled out in 2014 as the newest initiative under MassDEP’s Sustainable Materials Recovery Program, which was created by the Green Communities Act of 2008. The Act requires that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Waste Energy Certificates (WECs) be directed to recycling programs approved by MassDEP. The SMRP initiative has provided more than $35 million to local and regional recycling programs since 2010.
The number of municipalities that qualified for RDP grants increased 11 percent over last year and the amount awarded increased by more than 14 percent. Twelve municipalities will receive payments in excess of $50,000: Cambridge at $97,500; Boston at $80,000; New Bedford at $78,000; Springfield and Worcester, both at $71,500; Brockton at $68,000; Quincy at $65,000; Lowell at $64,000; Taunton at $52,500; Lynn and Newton, both at $52,000; and Brookline at $51,000. Twenty-seven municipalities are first-time recipients of Recycling Dividends Program funds.
“The Sustainable Materials Recovery Program is an important financial resource for communities looking to expand residents’ participation in local recycling programs,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading). “The grants awarded today will help deliver many positive environmental benefits for cities and towns across the Commonwealth that are working to reduce the amount of waste placed in landfills.”
“The Sustainable Materials Recovery Program is a beneficial way for our state to encourage recycling, reuse and waste reduction practices in our local communities,” said State Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox), House Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture. “It is critically important that we all do our part to promote sustainability, and I am incredibly proud to see that the Southern Berkshire towns of Egremont, Lee, Monterey, Sandisfield, Sheffield and Russell will be able to lead the way on this important issue.”
“As a member of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, I am proud of the three communities in my district that have been awarded the Sustainable Materials Recovery Program Grant funding,” said State Senator Ryan C. Fattman (R-Webster). “This important program is critical in supporting the Commonwealth’s Solid Waste Master Plan. It is encouraging to see these towns participating and I appreciate the work of the Baker-Polito Administration for continuing to promote the reduction of our solid waste and the recycling of reusable materials.”
“Recycling is a part of our everyday routine, however many residents are unaware of which items can actually be recycled. Our partnership with the state is key to supporting municipalities in educating its residents how to recycle,” said State Representative James Kelcourse (R-Amesbury). “The Baker-Polito Administration and MassDEP have done a fantastic job in continuing to lead the state in recycling best practices.”
See a list of the 262 RDP and Small Scale grant awards here.
The WEC payments received by MassDEP are deposited into the SMRP Expendable Trust, which is used to fund grants, technical assistance and education to help communities, businesses and institutions increase recycling and reduce waste.
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.