Fee Changes Effective July 1st

Effective Friday, July 1st the following fee changes will be implemented for recycled goods and services offered by Department of Public Works (DPW):

$20 for ANY TV or computer monitor*

$25 for any Curbside Pickup of a metal item, TV, recliner or sleeper sofa (which must be pre-arranged by purchasing a sticker at City Hall or DPW Operations Facility and Recycling Center)

* DPW made the decision to increase this pricing due to costs the city and its taxpayers were absorbing due to rate hikes and challenging market conditions for recycled glass (especially CRT glass).

If you have any questions please call 781-665-0142 or email recycle@cityofmelrose.org.

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Recycling Committee urges citizen support for Mass. plastic bag ban

The Melrose Recycling Committee has been actively working to reduce plastic bag usage in our city, and to promote proper recycling of plastic bags.

A significant milestone was reached on May 25 when the State Senate passed a budget bill that includes a provision banning single-use bags. To ensure this provision is enacted, key legislators need to know the ban has strong support.

  • The proposed budget includes a provision banning single-use carryout bags at all retail establishments that are 3,000 square feet or larger, or have at least three locations in the state. The provision is based on this House bill: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/189/House/H4168/History
  • This proposed legislation represents a very significant milestone for Massachusetts.  Plastic bag bans have been introduced in the state House and Senate for the past several years, with little progress. With 30 cities and towns passing their own bans, there is momentum for a statewide ban.
  • The chamber’s budget will now be reconciled with an earlier House-passed budget in a committee that includes senators and representatives.
  • The Globe reports that the bill will face significant hurdles: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/05/26/mass-senate-approves-ban-plastic-bags/dXkunh5TXAA6NbVQOGbWaN/story.html

 Why do we want to reduce or eliminate plastic bags?

One-time use plastic bags create a range of environmental and recycling management problems in Melrose, as well as globally.

  • Although recyclable, only about 5% of plastic bags are actually recycled.  The other 95% end up littering our streets and parks, or in a landfill or incinerator.
  • Plastic bags increase costs of curbside recycling. When residents put plastic bags in curbside bins, the bags clog the machinery that sorts our recyclables. Clogged machinery has to be shut down and cleaned out manually at least daily, creating worker safety risks and driving up costs.  Plastic bag contamination of the recycling stream is one of the top challenges nationally for the recycling industry.
  • Single-use plastic bags present an insidious threat to our environment on multiple levels. They often wind up in waterways or on the landscape, becoming eyesores and degrading water and soil as they break down into tiny toxic bits. Ecologically, hundreds of thousands of marine animals die every year when they eat plastic bags mistaken for food.

Our letter to legislators details the main reasons to support a plastic bag ban in Massachusetts.

How you can help:

By June 17 email or mail this letter to the House and Senate members on the budget committee.  Contact information is provided below.

Feel free to customize the letter to best represent your viewpoint. Including a personal or local connection in your letter increases the impact.

Our goal is to generate 100 letters from Melrose to support the bag ban.  Your voice counts!

Letter

The Honorable [insert name]

The State Senate (or House of Representatives)

State House

Room [insert room number]

Boston, MA 02133

Dear ________,

As a concerned citizen of Massachusetts I strongly urge you to pass the FY2017 budget with the provision banning single-use bags.

Single-use plastic bags present an insidious threat to our environment on multiple levels. They often wind up in waterways or on the landscape, becoming eyesores and degrading water and soil as they break down into tiny toxic bits. Their manufacture, transportation and disposal use large quantities of non-renewable resources and release equally large amounts of global-warming gases. Ecologically, hundreds of thousands of marine animals die every year when they eat plastic bags mistaken for food.

As a member of the Melrose Recycling Committee, I see first-hand the problems caused by single-use plastic bags.

  • Although they are recyclable, only about 5% of plastic bags are actually recycled.  The other 95% end up littering our streets and parks, or in a landfill or incinerator.
  • Plastic bags increase costs of curbside recycling. When residents put plastic bags in curbside bins, the bags clog the machinery that sorts our recyclables. Clogged machinery has to be shut down and cleaned out manually at least daily, creating worker safety risks and driving up costs.  Plastic bag contamination of the recycling stream is one of the top challenges nationally for the recycling industry.

These problems can be effectively mitigated by legislating the consumption of fewer disposable bags.  Many Massachusetts residents support banning plastic bags, and 30 cities and towns have already passed bans.  Where these bans have been implemented, adoption has been largely trouble-free.  Consumers learn to bring their own bags and the impacts to businesses have been minimal.  Many of the large retailers that would be impacted by this ban have experience implementing the ban through their locations in Cambridge, Brookline, and other municipalities where bag bans exist.

I urge you to pass this important provision to ban single-use plastic bags throughout the Commonwealth.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Sincerely,

[Your Full Name]

[Address]

[Daytime Telephone Number] or [Email Address

Budget negotiating committee members to contact

If you have time to send only a few letters, be sure to include co-chairs Spilka and Dempsey.

  • Senator Karen E. Spilka (co-chair), Karen.Spilka@masenate.gov, State House, Room 212, Boston, MA 02133
  • Representative Brian S. Dempsey (co-chair), Brian.Dempsey@mahouse.gov, State House, Room 243, Boston,  MA 02133
  • Senator Sal. N. DiDomenico (committee member), Sal.DiDomenico@masenate.gov, State House, Room 208, Boston, MA 02133
  • Senator Viriato M. deMacedo (committee member), Vinny.deMacedo@masenate.gov, State House, Room 313C, Boston, MA 02133
  • Representative Jason Lewis (represents Melrose), Jason.Lewis@mahouse.gov, State House, Room 511B, Boston, MA 02133
  • Representative Stephen Kulik (committee member), Stephen.Kulik@mahouse.gov, State House, Room 238, Boston, MA 02133
  • Representative Todd Smola (committee member), Todd.Smola@mahouse.gov, State House, Room 124, Boston, MA 02133
  • Representative Paul Brodeur (represents Melrose), Paul.Brodeur@mahouse.gove, State House, Room 160, Boston, MA 02133

Melrose Recycling Committee tours Peabody facility

[The following article was posted on Melrose Wicked Local on June 1, 2016.]

Have you wondered why plastic bags can’t be thrown in the single stream recycling bins? Confused about what is allowed, and what is not? Want to know what happens when your recycling leaves your front yard for the recycling center?

The questions are endless. And the recycling nuances are confusing. Recycling is tricky business, but the new state-of-the-art GreenWorks recycling facility on Route 1 in Peabody can sort roughly 50 tons per hour. And what makes it even more amazing – they will soon be powered by solar energy.

In order to get a better understanding of the recycling process, the Melrose Department of Public Works recently arranged a tour of the 50,000 square foot facility for the Melrose Recycling Committee.

While most of the process is automatic, the first part is mostly manual. Three to four people stand by the conveyor belt grabbing plastic bags. Unfortunately, this facility is not equipped to deal with such material; plastic bags easily clog the system causing it to shut down. When that happens, which is often, the entire assembly line is shut down and someone needs to climb into the machine to cut it out.

Caitlin Smith, Recycling Representative at JRM, informed the committee that in addition to plastic bags, the other top issue they face is contamination from sticky foods that have not been rinsed out of recycled containers. For example, if someone dumps a one-quarter full jar of peanut butter into their recycle bin, the recycling truck smashes that peanut butter, and it also contaminates all the other items around it. When that happens, the machines at the facility are unable to detect what these items are, and they all end up in the trash.

Some other interesting information that the committee gleaned from the tour included:

  • Small plastic items (under 2 inches) separated from larger plastic items will become trash because the system separates very small items, and then can only recycle the paper and glass from them. To avoid this, keep the plastic bottle tops attached to the bottle.
  • When recycling plastic, look for the recycle symbol and #1-7. That’s the best indicator to see if something is truly recyclable in the curbside pickup
  • Long stringy items clog up the machines and cause the assembly line to halt. Same with hoses, VHS tapes and tarps
  • Shredded paper can be recycled, ideally placed in paper bags
  • Plastics #1 such as water bottles are the most valuable to be recycled and re-used; they are in very high demand
  • Anything “rigid” (not floppy) and plastic without the recycle symbol and number should be dropped off at a rigid plastics event
  • Residents can recycle materials that are paper but have some plastic, and in the processing plant where the paper is recycled (by soaking, and pulling off the fibers), the plastic parts are naturally separated and then trashed. For example, toy packaging with cardboard and plastic (if you can remove plastic easily before putting in your recycling, feel free) and windowed envelopes (though many of those now are built so the plastic is recyclable with the paper).
  • There are innovations available for better recycling of waxy covered cardboard container, but the next step is to get companies to shift and start using them. Similarly, getting construction companies and towns to start reusing recycled materials instead of new material (like the broken down glass for road construction and foundations) will help make the best use of all the material which is being recycled instead of creating new waste

The trash and recycling processes take time, energy and other natural resources to eliminate or reuse the waste. Perhaps the most impactful “R” to do is reduce — refill that water bottle instead of throwing it out and grabbing a new one; refuse the plastic bag for your single item at the store; think about how and if you will use a free item before you grab it.

If you’re interested in touring the GreenWorks facility and seeing where your recyclables go when they leave your curbside, contact Sadie Brown, the Solid Waste & Recycling Coordinator for the City of Melrose, at recycle@cityofmelrose.org.