Municipal Workshop- Reaching Towards Zero Waste: Karen Bouquillon, Town of Northampton shares the extensive efforts the town has made to increase recycling and reuse as regional landfill is slated to close.
Northampton is in the heart of the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. We have no curbside collection programs, which is unusual for a City of this size…but we do have two transfer stations. Half the population has subscription services. We will be facing big changes in the year ahead, with the landfill closing. It is a perfect opportunity to pursue ZERO WASTE!
Not reuse, but important to mention…Northampton collects a lot of stuff at our transfer stations in addition to residential trash and recyclables. This list includes all of your run-of-mill difficult to manage wastes…white goods, bulky waste like furniture and construction & demolition materials, yard & leaf waste, propane tanks, and a few innovative ones—Food/paper waste & vegetable oil (3 years old), bulky rigid plastics
Again, not reuse, but important to mention…Difficult to collect some products/materials on an ongoing basis, more suitable for one-day events due to…-Regulatory requirements (drugs)-Expense (HHW)-Seasonal generation (Christmas trees & pellet fuel bags)-Education/ about recyclability (paper shredding)-Promotion of new collection programs (sharps)ReUse potential (bulky rigid plastics) -Lack of space for collection and/or storage (Styrofoam)-Tagging onto other community events (electronics)-Regional access (not just TS permit holders)
There are so many words that start with “re”….this list is not comprehensive!
Identify- Educate- Promote existing local opportunities…and fill in the gaps!
And you don’t have to do it all. Many communities have organizations that target specific materials and items for fundraising purposes. We are more than happy to support and promote their efforts!
14 events12 materials/products targeted for reuse30 organizations25 relaible volunteers
And here’s a list of events we do periodically. Some of these materials would be very difficult to collect on an ongoing basis, like unwanted medicationsand confidential papers for shredding. Some are seasonal, like the plant pot and tray collection or toy exchange in early December. Some are designed to serve the entire population…not just residents who use our facilities. Some have been designed to educate the public about an ongoing program, like the expansion of textile recycling. Some are too expensive to do on an ongoing basis, like collecting Household Hazardous Waste. There are lots of good reasons to sponsor one-day events.
The MRF Advisory Board has cooperated with newspapers in 3 counties to distribute a Reduce-Reuse-Recycle guide for Earth Day… it’s our sixth year! People look forward to it now, and it sells out in the Northampton area. An important feature of this guide identifies “what to do with everything”in our region. It’s also available online.
We have collected 21tons since June 2012, averaging about 1.75 tons per 30CY rolloff and a net revenue of nearly $13/ton not includingavoided disposal costs. Why is this a difficult to manage material? It is bulky, lightweight, and market specifications must be followed metal is often difficult to remove safely (e.g., handles on 5-gallon buckets)Items may contain electronics that are difficult to remove (e.g., motorized ride-on toys) andsome items are difficult to bale unless they are cut up (kiddie swimming pools). PVC products are often difficult to identify (many items do not have an SPI code)People want to recycle anything and everything that is plasticIf recycling services are available, it is easy to do, fairly inexpensive (almost break-even) and very popular!Pictures of what is acceptable works well. Do not use any pictures of black planting trays, 5 gallon buckets with metal handles, pet carriers with metal screens, or riding toys. Use a 30CY open top rolloff, because you need to keep punching it down with a bucket loaderThere is a huge reuse potential for this stuff …having an ongoing program for recycling and one-day events to promote reuse works well.
One day events help you to learn the ropes
Bulky rigids have a huge reuse potential!
Two elementary schools sponsor electronics collections in the spring and fall. Even though the City has a year-round collection program, these groups clear several thousand dollars each collection. Much better than a bake sale, and people feel so good about it. Grouping events can boost participation. Partnering with community organizations benefits everyone!
This event was a hoot! A very successful pairing of generous donors and people who needed the event. An exit survey revealed that at least $5000 worth of stuff was exchanged…but we didn’t ask people to fill out the surveys twice. The model we used for crowd control worked really well and we will certainly do it again. The date is December 8th if you would like to join us!
I had to add this picture. We only had 2 trailers like this to bring to the Salvation Army, and they took it all. The event ended at noon and everything had been happily dispersed by 1pm. Difficult to manage waste? I think we need to shift our ideas about difficulty. It’s all managable. We’ll just have to keep chipping away at it. Thank you!
ReUSE is FUNdamental
ReUse isFUNdamental!Karen BouquillonWaste Management SupervisorNorthampton Department of Public Works
NorthamptonMassachusettsPopulation 28,501Two transfer stationsserving 4000 householdsNo curbside servicesRegional landfill closing April 2013
White goods (including appliances with Freon, stoves, washers & dryers, etc.)Scrap metal (includes all electronics except cathode ray tubes (CRTs)Used books & electronic media (DVD’s, CD’s, games, etc.)Universal waste (Hg wastes, CFLs and fluorescent bulbs)Bulky waste (furniture, construction & demo waste)CRT’s (computer monitors and televisions)Used oil, antifreeze and vehicle batteriesClothing, textiles, shoes & accessoriesFood waste & non-recyclable paperPropanetanks & fire extinguishersMattresses and box springsSharps (ongoing & events)Rechargeable batteriesBulky rigid plasticsLeaf & yard wastePrinter cartridgesVegetable oilThermostatsClean woodCell phonesEyeglassesTiresAsh
Encouraging the use of reusable products shopping totes water bottlesFacilitating the transfer of ownership identify/promote existing reuse opportunities one-day exchange events permanent reuse centerIdentifying alternative uses upcycling into new products arts & craftsRestoring products to their original function local repair options repair caféReaching out to people & organizations with limited means upgrades to new gadgets/stuff creates generous supply reuse has valuable social benefits
Support/promote existing reuse options Non-profits (Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc) For-profits (consignment stores, used book sellers, etc) Online exchanges (Freecycle, Craigslist, MA Materials Trader)Form partnerships Businesses, non-profits, schools, media, retailers, etc.Fill in the gaps Continuously seek new market destinations Listen to what people want to reduce, recycle & reuse
Books- League of Women Voters & Leeds Elementary SchoolCoat drives- Survival Center & Interfaith Homeless ShelterAntiques & Ephemera- Cooley Dickenson HospitalSWAP meet- Williston Northampton SchoolFlea markets- Council on Aging &othersSkate and Ski Swap- Lions ClubClothing consignment fairTag sales- churchesand others!
Big Y (donations for events)Bikes Not Bombs (bike collection)sEcoBuilding Bargains (building materials collection)Dakin Center (received pet-related donations at bulky rigid plastics collection)Daily Hampshire Gazette (promotion)GreenNorthampton (promotion and volunteer recruitment)Jackson Street Elementary School & JFK Middle School PTO (promotion and electronics collection)Ken Johnson (pellet bag collection)Knack (ReUse Arts Organization)League of Women Voters (book collection)Lou’s UpCycles (packaging fair and Rally for the Arts)Northampton Education Foundation (plant pots & trays collection)Northampton High School culinary arts program (refreshments)Northampton High School Environmental Club (volunteers)Northampton Police Department (durable medical equipment collection)Northampton Board of Health (sharps collection)Northampton Community Access Television (promotion)Northampton Council on Aging (provided site for paper shredding event and promotion)Northampton Parents Center (volunteers and promotion)Paradise Copies (discounted printing)costs)ProShred (paper shredding)ReFoamIt (Styrofoam collections)Salvation Army (collections of textiles and household goods)Smith Vocational High School (access to facilities for events)Springfield Materials Recycling Facility (bulky rigid plastics pilot project)Stavros Center for Independent Living (durable medical equipment collection)The BagShare Project (packaging fair)Thirty professional reuse artists (Reuse Rally for the Arts)Unitarian Church (speaking engagement)
Sponsor at least 4 one-day reuse events before 7/1/13 Target products/materials with reuse potential outside of the “mainstream” Educate the public about local reuse opportunities Create partnerships with re-use & other community organizations Develop a trained & committed group of volunteers Create a sustainable venue where materials & goods are offered for re-use atleast 2X year Work towards long-term goals (permanent reuse center, resource recoverypark, repair cafe, etc)
2010 bulky rigid plastics (1)2011 plastic plant pots & trays (1)textile drives (2)holiday toy exchange (1)bicycles (1)2012 bulky rigid plastics (2)plastic plant pots & trays (1)textile drives (3)holiday toy exchange (1)bicycles (2)building materials (1)durable medical equipment (1)reuse artists show & sale (1)community tag sale (1)
2013 March children’s clothing, toys, books & sporting goodsApril community tag saledurable medical equipmenttextile driveMay plastic plant pots & traysgardener’s stuff exchangeJune textile drivebulky rigid plasticsbicyclesSeptember reuse artists show & saleOctober children’s clothing & Halloween costume exchangeNovember community tag saleDecember holiday toy exchange
Quality controlAccepting/sorting/preparing stuff for reuse is labor-intensive ConvenienceWhen people are done with something, they want it to go away!If continuous reuse options are unavailable, sufficient noticeabout periodic/seasonal collection events is essential Carbon footprintTagging on with other community events and/or collectingmultiple materials can reduce impacts (e.g., collecting Styrofoam) Inappropriate behaviorsDealers & black Friday frenzies & dump /run junk & greediness… Some good stuff can’t be reused (e.g., child car seats)
Public educationIt’s difficult to communicate important details if too manynew materials/products are collected at a one-day event(what’s acceptable & what’s not, where to go on site, etc)Increased participationMultiple materials/products = more reasons to make an effortPartnerships• increase promotion & outreach• educate the public about existing local reuse options• supply or supplement the workforce• allows the event organizer to focus on new initiatives