Seeing goal met, state retires program to encourage recycling
Years of incentive programs and education to promote recycling enabled the state Department of Environmental Protection to ease off this year.
The DEP ended its 18-year-old Department Approved Recycling Program in July. It was created to encourage municipalities to establish recycling programs.
Under the program, communities that kept an increasingly long list of banned materials out of their trash loads were given approved status, which meant their loads were not subject to inspection by the DEP. This kept loads moving fast and reduced the risk a community would be fined for having banned materials in the trash.
Now that 285 of the state’s 351 municipalities have recycling programs, the incentive is no longer necessary, said Greg Cooper, the DEP’s director of consumer programs. About 95 percent of people living in Massachusetts have access to residential recycling programs.
“We feel it’s time to end the program and focus more on looking at which programs are successful by throwing them back into the inspection category,” Cooper said.
Other state programs that encourage recycling will continue, however. Massachusetts provides grants to help municipalities expand recycling centers and take in more types of recyclable materials — Styrofoam recycling is particularly hot right now. Towns also receive a small stipend for every ton of trash recycled — anywhere from $16.40 to $17.80 per ton.
“It’s a little money, but the more we recycle the more we get,” said Ed Cauley, Southampton’s highway superintendent and a town selectman.