Published in the September 26, 2018 edition
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — With a goal of reducing solid waste and increasing recycling, the Board of Selectmen authorized Town Administrator Rob Dolan to apply for a second Community Compact grant recently.
Gov. Charlie Baker signed an executive order creating the Community Compact program in January 2015. The selectmen signed onto the program in December 2016.
Dolan noted the selectmen recently authorized the TA to apply for a Community Compact grant pertaining to emergency management.
“It will assess our emergency management system in town,” said Dolan. “We have submitted that (application).”
While Dolan originally proposed applying for a second grant in order to update the town’s Open Space and Recreation Plan, the selectmen expressed a desire to explore other grant opportunities. Dolan recommended that the town apply for a grant in order to reduce municipal waste and increase recycling.
“Recycling is good for the environment, but there is a major financial benefit and a regulatory benefit by increasing recycling in town,” said Dolan. “The town of Lynnfield right now has an average recycling rate.”
Dolan noted that disposing waste is a major challenge facing municipalities.
“Due to the number of trash disposal companies that are shrinking due to regulation, the issue of how contracts are designed for towns are super important,” said Dolan. “The basis of town contracts is based on tonnage. In order to save money, we need to reduce tonnage and therefore get a better contract than we have with JRM.”
Dolan said, “The only way to reduce tonnage is through recycling.”
“There is a great financial benefit for a town that recycles at a high level,” said Dolan.
Dolan said regulations seeking to prohibit cardboard from entering the trash system are starting to be enforced.
“The state often looked the other way and hoped towns would follow,” said Dolan. “They are now continuously stopping trucks at transfer stations and checking for cardboard in the system. Those companies are being fined. What is then happening is companies are going back to towns and saying ‘If we see cardboard in a trash barrel, we are not picking it up.’ That is a nightmare.”
Dolan said “there is going to be a point where no cardboard is going to be allowed in the trash system.”
“It’s going to be sooner rather than later,” said Dolan.
Dolan also noted neighboring communities such as Reading and Wakefield have banned plastic bags. He said the state Legislature could potentially pass a state law banning plastic bags in the future.
“There is a number of communities around us that are eliminating plastic bags,” said Dolan. “A lot of it is being driven by environmental reasons, which are excellent reasons. But there is going to be a point after cardboard when plastic bags are going to be eliminated from the system.”
Dolan said the state could potentially adopt a page out of California’s playbook and implement public composting in the future.
The TA said the Community Compact grant will help identify ways to improve recycling in town such as studying the practice of commingling.
“Right now we have to separate our recycling,” said Dolan. “When I was Melrose, we went to commingling so we could put everything in one barrel. It’s a lot easier for people. When you make things easier for people, more people recycle, tonnage goes down and costs go down.”
Dolan said the grant could expand education about recycling. He said local children will be able to play an important role in raising awareness about the importance of recycling.
“Kids could demand that their parents recycle,” said Dolan. “I remember I started recycling when my daughter yelled at me after I threw the newspaper in the trash because I didn’t want to walk five feet to throw it in the bin.”
Dolan said the grant could lead to the creation of a recycling committee and would benefit the DPW.
“A grant could make all of those things happen,” said Dolan. “It’s good environmental and financial policy.”
Selectman Phil Crawford expressed his support for Dolan’s recycling grant proposal.
“I think this is a very good choice,” said Crawford. “I know the costs for JRM are going up during every negotiation, so I would certainly support this second Community Compact grant.”
After the discussion, the selectmen voted 3-0 to authorize Dolan to apply for the recycling grant.