Published in the July 6, 2017 edition


NORTH READING – The town’s recycling program has saved more than $1 million in trash tipping fees since 2006, Ed McGrath told selectmen during a recent meeting. In a follow up conversation this week with the Transcript, McGrath explained that heading into the final month of fiscal year 2017, the town had recycled 1,305 tons of bottles, paper and plastic, saving $82,889 for that year in trash disposal fees for the town. Trash disposal reportedly runs at $70 per ton right now to be sent to an incinerator in Haverhill.

As of the end of May, recycling had saved the town exactly $1,064,874 in tipping fees, said McGrath.

McGrath, who also works as the recycling coordinator for the town of Bedford, said that North Reading households actually produce more trash than the state average – about 61 pounds per week compared to 47 pounds per week statewide. Still, the town has been working for years on cutting its trash disposal for some time. McGrath recalled that about a decade ago, the “Lose Weight North Reading” program aimed to cut the town’s amount of trash flow. Before curbside recycling was instituted in town, McGrath also recalled how recycling-minded residents would drop off their items with the DPW off Chestnut Street.

These days, McGrath said that there is still plenty of room for people to help the town save more on trash disposal. He pointed out that things like credit card statements, flyers, and cardboard should be recycled whenever possible – as well as cans and jars, which he said can be washed out quickly. He also encouraged people to plan on recycling their cups and bottles and other such items if they have a party.

Regardless of how much people choose to recycle, McGrath said that another factor always in play is the changing nature of the town’s solid waste solid stream. For example, cardboard boxes from purchases on Amazon reportedly helped propel a 4.8% uptick in paper recycling last fiscal year (about 683 tons), even amid a slight decline overall and a 5% increase in the total trash generated by the town. For fiscal year 2017, North Reading reportedly had a 24.5% recycling rate, indicating the amount of material removed from the solid waste stream. Throughout his involvement with the town’s recycling efforts, McGrath said that’s always had a philosophy of giving people the opportunity to do the right thing.

Looking ahead, McGrath said that he would also like to see North Reading expand the amount of recyclable materials it collects curbside, such as rigid plastics and scrap metal. He also noted that many people tend to have scrap lumber and assorted construction type debris sitting in garages and yards, and said he would also like to see people have the opportunity to properly dispose of that material. An event in Bedford that accepted residential construction debris reportedly generated over 15 tons of material from 253 cars in about three hours back in May, added McGrath.