The world of recycling has not been clean and green lately, as a worldwide shift in the business has now filtered down to the City.
DPW Director Greg St. Louis told the Independent this week that the City will be switching from Casella Recycling to JRM Recycling in order to try to save money in the radically changing market.
“We have been working for a while to try to make a change and Everett has a floating recycling rate,” he said. “As the market got worse and worse recently, we began to see no end in sight for when the market would turn around. We wanted to get into a locked rate so we have confidence in what we will pay per tonÉ We need to save our residents the burden of paying $350,000 this year compared to a very nominal charge last year and being a revenue stream before that. We’ve gone from a revenue stream for our recycling to paying up to $350,000 per year, and we need to get a handle on it. We needed to look at options.”
Casella is located in Charlestown has been the City’s recycling contractor for several years, and also has the contracts for most cities around Everett. However, Casella officials told the Independent earlier this year that the recycling market had totally changed.
For years, recyclers like Casella have sent bails of recycling that are 90 percent or so free of contaminants to China. In January, China came out with new rules that required all imported recycling to be 100 percent free of contaminants, which is basically impossible, Casella officials said.
For some time, they relied on second-tier markets such as in Africa or India, but those markets could not handle the large amounts coming out of the U.S. That has led to large price increases passed on to Casella for shipping contaminated bails overseas. That has now been passed on to municipalities, and with Everett not having a locked rate, Casella was apparently passing costs to Everett.
St. Louis said in 2017, Everett actually was paid for its recycling.
However, by January 2018, they had to pay $30 per ton.
That went up to $80 per ton by April, and that means the City will be paying about $350,000 this year.
He said communities like Boston had locked rates much lower, such as $5 per ton. Those locked rates, St. Louis said, caused the company to have to push costs off on communities like Everett that had variable rates.
As Everett began looking at what to do with recycling, they applied for a grant from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to begin running a program to crack down on recycling and educate residents about contaminants.
That led to JRM beginning to work with the City.
“As part of this process, JRM said they would lock us in,” he said. “They have one of the newest sorting facilities out there. They have the capacity and they wanted to help Everett. They agreed to work with us and held off on surcharging the contaminants.”
St. Louis said the new fixed rate with JRM will save the City tens of thousands of dollars per month.
“The City needs to take every opportunity to recoup or prevent any surcharges associated with our recycling costs,” he said.
City will begin patrolling recycling bins on Sept. 10
The City of Everett won a state grant last week from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that will allow them to begin patrolling the recycling bins put out in the neighborhood, and rejecting those bins that have contaminates such as plastic bags Ð a major source of trouble at recycling facilities.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria said, “Education is key to a successful recycling program. For instance, many people believe that plastic bags can and should go in the recycling bin. However, plastic bags are the number one contaminant because they become tangled in the recycling processing equipment and frequently shutdown recycling operations for hours. Our ‘no bags’ campaign will save the city money and help the environment by reducing contaminants in our recycling stream.”
The Recycling IQ Kit program is funded through a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), which also provides technical assistance. Everett received both funding and technical assistance to run the program that was first piloted two years ago in Lowell and West Springfield with good results.
DPW Director Greg St. Louis said the $40,000 grant would allow interns to patrol the city and look into recycling bins for contaminants.
“We’re going to go house to house around the city and look at what you put into the barrel,” he said. “You will see employees of the City going around to find contaminants. If they find something that cannot be recycled, they will leave a not saying what was in the bin that was non-recyclable and that the person needs to not put them in the barrel.”
At that point, the City employee will turn the barrel on its side so the collectors will not take it.
“If we let the contaminants in the recycling barrel go through, it will only cost the rest of the taxpayers,” he said.
The program will run for nine weeks, from Sept. 10 to November.