Budget spotlight: Recycling

I hear it all the time: “Why can’t the city do weekly recycling pickups?” The fiscal 2013 budget takes some concrete steps toward making that a reality.

Weekly pickups cost more than biweekly, and we plan to close that gap in a couple of different ways. One is to reduce tonnage, the amount of trash that has to be disposed of. Our solid waste goes to a transfer station and then to an incinerator, and we pay for it by the ton. If you throw out less trash, we pay less tonnage. So we will be looking at ways to reduce the amount of solid waste in the system.

One way to do that is to use less to begin with. That has been a trend in our society, with less packaging and more reusable items, that I hope will continue. That comes down to individual decisions.

The other piece is increasing recycling, and that’s where we can help. Our goal is to make recycling in Melrose as easy and straightforward as possible. It shouldn’t be a chore. Our new Recycling Coordinator, Jessie Schmitt, is working on some neighborhood education campaigns, and she is having special recycling days throughout the year so people can dispose of things they can’t put in their regular recycling. In May we will be shredding paper, and in June we will take your used books.

We have already moved toward this goal by removing the requirement that corrugated cardboard be cut into pieces of 2 x 2 feet or less. Now you can simply flatten it and put it out with your other recycling. And glass, metal, and plastic can all go in your bin. In addition, when Fiscal 2013 begins, on June 30, we will remove the $5 charge currently assessed for recycling bins.

While Melrose has always been proactive about recycling; we were offering pickup service long before many other cities and towns. Weekly pickups will increase our recycling rate even more, and in the end, everyone will benefit. Recycling is the right thing to do, both for the budget and the environment, and we will work hard to encourage everyone to do it.

By working together, we can reach my goal of moving to weekly recycling within the next 24 months.

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